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New nurses at greater risk for workplace injury

Changes might take place soon at hospitals in New Jersey and other states as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration plans to curb the amount of health care workplace injuries. These efforts will be particularly focused on the nursing profession, which faces a greater risk for injury than construction workers, police officers and correctional officers. A study conducted by the RN Work Project found that newer nurses are even more likely to suffer workplace injuries.

The study, which was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, found that nurses who work eight or more hours of overtime, have a heavy workload or are younger than 30 can suffer injuries due to needle sticks, strains and sprains more than others. This includes many newly licensed nurses who work weekend overtime and 12-hour shifts. Nurses who work nights, have a heavier than average workload or are in poor health also face greater risk for these injuries.

To reduce injuries, experts say that the psychological and physical stressors new nurses face must be addressed. However, the researchers said more research is needed to determine how to reduce the injury rates. OSHA's plans for reducing workplace injuries in hospitals include looking at how hospitals address the injuries caused to nurses by lifting patients.

While measures are in place in many industries to reduce strains and sprains, hospitals do not always have or implement safety precautions for nurses who are expected to lift and move patients. Regardless, when a worker sprains, strains or otherwise becomes injured in any industry, he or she might be able to receive workers' compensation. This could help cover any medical expenses resulting from an injury.

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