How important is physical and mental welfare at the workplace to you? Safe and active workplaces are healthier, happier, and more productive, with less stress, lower absence, and better performance.
If your workplace does not improve your wellbeing but rather threatens it, there is an underlying issue that exists and this needs to be addressed! According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overexertion accounted for about 46% of all nursing injury cases in 2016 whereas only 34% for other occupations! Additionally, some potential causes include excessive physical effort, bending, twisting, lifting, and repetitive motions. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are 1.6 million work-related ill health cases, 0.5 million Work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases, and 828,000 Workers suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2019/20 in the UK.
Often employees are unaware of the impacts of risks attached to unsafe environments. But statistics indicate that real risks to personal safety in an office do exist and are recognized at a worrying level. This is even more true among nursing staff because of your exposure to risk daily. Always remember, your employers have a moral and legal responsibility towards their staff!
What are the mental and physical health risks in the workplace?
Healthcare workers are unfortunately at risk of possible physical injuries at their work. These can include:
- Back injuries: Back injuries are one of the most common physical injuries amongst healthcare workers due to the demanding nature of the job. Nurses have an increased risk of back pain and six times or higher prevalence of back injuries. They occur due to moving patients, or even picking up heavier than usual items. Physical load and increase the risk of back injuries.
- Falls, slips, and trips: These are the second leading type of injury among nurses. These are caused due to wet floors, walking obstacles, tripping over cords, not wearing the right footwear, etc.
- Overexertion: Repetitive stress causes serious injuries. Did you know that healthcare workers are 7 times more likely than other workers to develop musculoskeletal disorders?
- Head injuries: These are often the result of slipping and falling in the workplace.
- Violence and other injuries by people/ animals: Unfortunately, healthcare workers are one of the most likely cohorts to face violence against caused by people. The labor bureau reports that nurses are about three times at greater risk of facing violence than other careers.
How to prevent these injuries?
Practice the right housekeeping techniques, do not work in the dark, do not leave wet floors unattended and always put a caution sign on the floor while cleaning. Slip and fall injuries can sometimes also be avoided by wearing the right footwear according to the environment or introducing textured floors in the hospital. For example, nurses who work in ambulatory healthcare services are more prone to injuries involving transportation incidents that are caused by moving patients. These can include back injuries, and falls, slips, and trips, while hospital nurses may be at higher risk of overexertion, or contact with hazardous objects and equipment. To prevent back injuries and overexertion, many organizations have manual handling training for nurses to prevent these injuries. Along with that, patient handling equipment and devices, and ‘no-lift- policies’ are some of the measures introduced by organizations to help nurses further with the prevention. Nurses should never face workplace violence and hospitals are introducing workplace violence prevention programs to ensure a safe working environment for all nurses and other healthcare workers.
Mental Health Risks:
Hospitals are now starting to recognize the importance of mental health. We are more prone to mental health risks than we sometimes actually realize. Care workers are frequently found accepting abuse as ‘part of the job’ and shy away from acknowledging it.
A study by Roehampton University mentioned that Nurses have worse mental health symptoms than doctors! While hospitals and organizations have a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace, the staff needs to take responsibility for themselves and their colleagues in terms of reporting incidents and cooperating with their employer. This includes but is not limited to attending training, reporting incidents, and understanding your rights and policies. There is a staggering rise in mental health risks due to the impact of Covid-19 and needs to be addressed properly. Many studies have revealed this ever-existing issue and it is now more than ever necessary for all healthcare workers to speak up about their problems with their employers and take the appropriate action.
Reasons why good health and safety measures should be introduced by your employer:
- Legally, it is imperative for policymakers and organizations to comply with the Health and Safety Act 1974
- Morally, organizations should protect their employees from unnecessary injuries to the best of their capabilities
- Financially, adapting preventative measures can avoid possible financial losses to the business that can potentially be caused due to workplace injury
To ensure that these practices are maintained, everyone needs to be aware of the possible impacts of not following the right preventative measures and ensure a healthy work environment.
Acknowledging mental and physical health risks at your workplace is the first step to preventing them. Healthcare workers are more prone to physical injuries such as falls, slips, and trips, overexertion, back injuries, etc. but these can be prevented to an extent by taking the right precautions. Along with physical injuries, nurses and other care workers are also susceptible to mental health risks, and opening up and speaking about them is imperative.
We understand the risks you as a frontline worker face on an everyday basis but we would like to know more from you about your experiences with workplace safety. Please feel free to share your experiences with us!
We make sure the safety of our employees is maintained. If you are looking for applying for a job in the healthcare sector, click on the link below and check out the openings listed on our recruitment page.
Are you looking for nursing agencies near your location? Mylocum and CarePro are based in London but we provide vacancies all around the UK.