Safety of Nurses, who has addressed it?

Safetyof Nurses, who has addressed it?


GlobalHealth College

Safetyof Nurses, who has addressed it?

Accordingto Jennifer Fink, a registered nurse from Milwaukee in Wisconsin,nursing is one of the most dangerous professions in America. In 2010,a report by Health Care Workers Unprotected showed that health careworkers reported the most job related injuries. Healthcare workersreported 654,000 injuries as compared to only 502,000 injuriesreported by manufacturing workers. This reported suggested thathealthcare workers including nurses reported the most musculoskeletalinjuries from work related cases and this up to seven times theaverage reported around the country (Fink,2013).Nurses around the country as exposed to a variety of factors rangingfrom injuries, violence and exposure to health hazards just tomention a few. A safe work environment is one that is satisfying andempowering and is not rather an environment that is absent of threatson health matters. However, it is an environment that allows nursesto have a mental, physical and social well-being. In order to addressthe health and works risks encountered by nurses, the nurses andhealthcare worker protection act of 2013 was drafted. The bill gaverise to the eight safe patients handling and mobility standards thatwere suggested by the American Nurses Association (ANA). In thisessay, the author will delve into the question of the safety ofnurses in their work environment. The author will discuss the riskshealth workers and nurses at exposed to in their line of duty. Inaddition, the author will dissect the nurses and healthcare workersprotection act of 2013 as well as the eight standards of safe patienthandling and mobility that were suggested by the American NursesAssociation (ANA).

Nursesin America are exposed to a variety of stress factors and risk totheir health. According to a report by Health Care WorkersUnprotected health care workers with the inclusion of nurses reportedthe most job related injuries. Nurses are exposed to a range ofhealth risks ranging from violence sleep related illness as a resultof working long shifts, violence and exposure to chemicals, bloodpathogens and needle sticks which expose nurses to seriousinfections. The author will look at a variety of risks factors nurseare exposed to in the work environment.

Workingshifts and long hours are characteristics of being a nurse. Whilethere are some benefits associated with working in different andvarying shifts, there are also some other negative aspects associatedwith working on rotational shifts. Some nurses prefer working on suchworking environment because of the incentive pay, nurses get somedifferential for working overnights for instance. In addition, thereis reduced activity during the night as compared to the day. Researchshows that there are adverse effects of working on rotational shiftsand working on long shifts. Such effects include disturbing circadianrhythms that eventually affect the quality of sleep and the length ofsleep which may eventually affect the function of the heart and alsocause fatigue. In addition to affecting the health workers andnurses’ health, these workers do not spend enough time with theirfamilies thus leading to social and metal stress. According to thestudy, 32% of night workers and 26% of rotating shifts workersreported serious cases of insomnia and sleepiness (Hughes,2008).These workers were at high risk of getting cardiovascular diseases,having low immunity and suffering nerve related illnesses.

Nursesalso put in long hours of work due to the high demanding nature oftheir job. Nurses are required to work long hours due to emergencycases and the fact there is a growing shortage of nurses in thefield. This in turn makes nurses spend longer hours at work eitherfilling in for other nurses or because there are not enough personnelat the health facility. Reports suggest that nurses work overtime andwork put in as much as 50 hours a week. The report claimed thatworking overtime by nurses and health workers had a correlation withpoor health, reporting injury cases, increased mortality and illnessamong health workers. Working on long shifts decreases the level ofalertness of health workers and exposes them to injury at work.

Thehealthcare industry in the U.S has gone through the most changes overthe last decade when compared to other industries. Changes in demandsin healthcare and design structure have made resulted to manyinjuries reported by health care workers and nurses in their line ofduty. The long schedules at work coupled with the high demand forphysical work were some of the contributing factors that have led tomany nurses and health care workers reporting musculoskeletalinjuries and disorders. Musculoskeletal disorders can be defined aspain that affects the back and neck regions of the body as well astingling and numbness. Health care workers are especially susceptibleto back injuries due to the lifting involved at work. Nurses andhealth workers reported the most injuries on upper extremities, infact the number of muscolescketal injuries reported were 7.9% of allhealth workers. The rate of muscoskelatal injuries has been so highthat between 6% and 11% of nurses interviewed in a given reportedpointed out that they considered changing their profession as aresult of injuries experienced at work(Hughes,2008).The most common injuries reported by the nurses revolved around theneck, the shoulder and back regions of the body. In addition, thenumber of nurses exposed to injuries seems to surge due to the lowstaffing ratios experienced at work. Nurses are expected to work inhigh demanding activities that involve bending, heavy lifting andtwisting which eventually has adverse effects on the nurses backafter sometime. In addition, the turning of patients and transferringof patients are some of the most common practices at work that causeback injuries among nurses at work.

Nursesare also exposed to a variety of chemicals compound which could haveadverse effects on their health. Nurses are usually exposed tovolatile organic compound such as formaldehyde which evaporates atroom temperature is usually inhaled by nurses while at work. Suchchemicals have been linked with increased cases of asthma after somelevel of exposure to such chemicals which are used in drapes,furniture and carpet in health facilities. Latex exposures are alsoother safety concerns the nurses are exposed to. The use of naturalproteins in latex gloves is a serious concern among nurses asexposure to such cloves could lead to cases of asthma. However, theAmerican Nurses Association has intervened in the situation aslow-allergen gloves are now used in most health facilities. Inaddition, health care workers and nurses are also exposed tocontracting blood borne illness or infections. It is believed thatnurses report over 600,000 injuries every year and half of theseinjuries end not being reported. It is estimated that 1,000 healthcare workers and nurses end up contracting illness such as hepatitisC or B and HIV. As much as 54% of nurses are exposed to needle sticksand sharp objects at work (Hughes,2008).

Despitethe health care and nursing fraternity suffering over the decades,some light was at the end of the tunnel in 2013. Following theenactment of the nurse and health care worker protection act of 2013,the act raised issues concerning the safety and health standards thatface nurses and other health professions in regard to the handling ofpatients, preventing injuries and mobility of the patients. The billwas introduced by a Michigan representative Conyers on June 25, 2013and this lead to the development of safe patient handling andmobility standards that came up with eight standards in an effort toreduce injury at work. The 40 page outline of the standards was puttogether by the American Nurses Association (ANA) while incollaboration with other professions and working groups around thecountry. The standards were set up after it emerged that nurses lighta total of 1.8 tons after their 8 hour shift at work. Most of theinjuries reported by the nurses seemed to have occurred as a resultof cumulative effects with registered nurses reporting the fifthhighest number of musculoskeletal injuries. The eight safe patienthandling and mobility standards were meant to reduce the case ofhealthcare injuries reported as well as educate and train the workerson how to implement the standards. The first standard aims atestablishing a safety of culture in the workplace.

Thiswill be established in the workplace through creating a safe workingenvironment through collaboration and communication in healthfacilities. Secondly, the standard looks at using safety equipment asopposed to using manual ways of transferring or moving patients inhealth facilities. Third, the standard advocates for ergonomics inthe work place in an effort to reduce body movements which may resultto injury in the workplace. The fourth standard allows healthfacilities to implement patient handling technology and maintain asafe working environment for both the health care workers andpatients. The fifth standard calls for the establishment of aneducational and training program for the workers at healthfacilities. Proper awareness and training should be conducted inhealth facilities in order to familiarize them with the equipment andthe need for adopting safety practices. The sixth standard allows anintegration of the patient in safety standards so that patients arealso involved in the program. The seventh standard looks intohandling of patients by workers after they have just recovered frominjuries. The standard looks into how such workers can be accommodatein the workplace. Finally, the last standard seeks to establish acomprehensive system of evaluating the work place safety practices(Wood,2013).


Fink,J. L. (2013, August 21). Keepingnurses safe: Nursing is one of the most dangerous professions.Retrieved March 31, 2015, from Healthcare Traveller:

Hughes,R. (2008). PatientSafety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses.New York: PubMed.

Wood,D. (2013, June 28). TheNew National Standards in Safe Patient Handling and Mobility.Retrieved March 31, 2015, from AMN Healthcare: