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Health and safety hazards faced by nurses in the workplace

From their first step taken into their place of employment until their final step out the door, hospital nurses in New Jersey and across the country may find themselves exposed to a wide array of challenging situations that could potentially be rife with health and safety hazards. However, such risks can be mitigated and perhaps even prevented when both health care professionals and medical facilities take steps to ensure that the workplace is safe.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration statistics indicate that in 2011, there were 6.8 reported incidents concerning work-related injuries and illnesses in hospitals for every 100 full-time health care workers on staff. According to OSHA, a study of emergency departments suggests that 12.1 percent of emergency department nurses may encounter physical violence during the course of a single week and that patients are the perpetrators in a vast majority of the cases.

Data also indicates that professionals who provide direct patient care are injured at almost twice the rate of employees who work in the private sector, which includes the construction industry. However, there are a number of actions that nurses can take to improve their health and safety in the workplace. Nurses are advised to be careful of sharp objects in order to avoid exposure to blood-borne pathogens, to use proper gloves in order to avoid latex allergy, and to refuse to tolerate violence in the workplace.

As is the case with most New Jersey employees, hospital workers are covered by their employer's workers' compensation insurance. In some cases, however, employers and insurers may not acknowledge serious workplace injuries that are incurred. Those whose claims for benefits have been disputed or denied may want to have the assistance of counsel when appealing the decision.

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