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Safety tips for health care workers

Pennsylvania health care workers may already be aware that nurses have a high rate of on-the-job injuries. In fact, direct care professionals are almost twice as likely to suffer injuries compared to workers in private industries including construction. Nurses also incur a high rate of illnesses from causes as varied as needle sticks to contact with others who have infectious diseases.

However, they can also take steps to protect themselves. The CDC says that there are 385,000 injuries to health care workers each year related to sharps. Nurses should follow all regulations related to sharps handling and discuss any safety issues with supervisors if federal regulations are not being followed.

Latex sensitivity can range from mild to a full-blown allergy that results in anaphylactic shock. Nurses are required to be given powder-free gloves on request. Those who do use the gloves regularly should wash their hands each time they remove the gloves, wear them with liners, and avoid putting oils and lotions on their hands that may cause the latex to break down.

One study found that around 12 percent of emergency room nurses are subject to workplace violence over the space of a typical work week. Health care workers should watch for situations that may escalate and speak with their employers about what protocols are in place to protect them.

Most health care workers who are injured on the job are eligible for workers' compensation. These injuries may include repetitive stress injuries or back injuries from lifting patients. Since these injuries may occur over time and not in a single notable incident, a health care worker might struggle to prove the injuries are work-related. Ill and injured health care workers might want to speak to an attorney about their situation and their rights.

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