Understanding Occupational Strains and Physical Hazards in Healthcare

Understanding Occupational Strains and Physical Hazards in Healthcare

Do you often find yourself stepping away from long shifts with a sore back?

Or do you usually feel some pain in your wrist, or your knees, or other areas of your body?

You may think it’s nothing of concern and hope the pain fades soon enough.

However, it never entirely does, especially when your next shift comes up and you’re sore again by the end.

Working in the healthcare field can take a physical toll on your body.

In fact, nurses are at the highest risk of experiencing occupational injuries in their field.

Based on recent studies, it was discovered that nurses are most likely to undergo a work-related injury in healthcare above construction, logging, and manufacturing.

It’s essential to be aware of your risks and what you can do to prevent injuries in your healthcare workplace.

By being conscious of what conditions could make you more prone to musculoskeletal injuries, strains, or sprains, you can take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and maintain your physical wellbeing.

Common Causes of Occupational Strains for Nurses

There are many physically-taxing elements that you regularly face during your shifts.
Some of these include:

  • Walking and standing for long periods
  • Repositioning a patient
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Transferring patients between their beds, wheelchairs, bathroom facilities, shower or bath, etc.
  • Managing aggressive patients

These are among the many cases where you need to use your physical strength in your workplace.

However, some cases, like heavier patients or aggressive patients, could cause overexertion because you were not in the right physical condition to help them without straining your body.

Impact of Physical Strain in Healthcare

While you feel that the pain isn’t so bad now, so there’s no problem, you need to understand the long-term effects that physical strain could have on you.

Your strains could result in chronic pain and discomfort and physical exhaustion if you are experiencing burnout from working consistent long shifts requiring physical exertion.

After several shifts in a row, you may find your body feeling weaker and in pain from completing regular nursing activities frequently over time.

This will lead to physical burnout, which could leave you more vulnerable to injuries in your setting.

The constant pain from your strains, which involves the abnormal stretching and tearing of your muscles, could be impacting your mobility.

While these seem like casual physical discomfort that is solved easily with OTC anti-inflammatories, the impact could cause further musculoskeletal issues in the long run.

Over time, strains could intensify to generate a complete rupture of your muscle, causing injury and intensified pain.

Common Causes of Injuries in Healthcare

As mentioned, you are at high risk of injuries in the healthcare field.

These could result from ongoing physical strain or exposure to hazardous situations in your workplace.

Some common causes of injuries for nurses include:

  • Ongoing overexertion
  • Needle punctures
  • Violent or hostile patients
  • Slips and falls
  • Understaffing and chronic overtime

Beyond strain, you are at risk of injuries or conditions that could impair your ability to work.

Some injuries may be short-term and easy to recover from, like sprains, while others could leave you hurt for long periods and requiring intensive treatment.

More intense injuries or health conditions you are vulnerable to in healthcare include:

  • Back injuries, including slipped discs
  • Infections, diseases, and viruses
  • Bone fractures
  • Head injuries

These are more extreme cases of occupational injuries that could result from accidents in your workplace.

They could leave you unable to work for a certain period, or in the worst case, experiencing long-term issues that impact your mobility and independent functioning.

In the case of head injuries, especially, you could experience cognitive issues afterward that influence your ability to remember things or retain information.

Physical strains and injuries are serious hazards that nurses regularly experience in the workplace.

However, if you know how to identify these hazards, you can learn to prevent these issues.

Preventing Physical Strains and Avoiding Injuries

Fortunately, you can use strategies and resources in your healthcare workplace to help you assist others.

It helps to address any possible hazardous risks you see in your workplace setting, like constant puddling on the floor near plumbing where falls could occur or exposed needles that have been used on-site or around the building.

Bring these issues to the attention of your supervisor right away so they can take action to eliminate preventable incidents, reducing your risk of accident-caused injuries.

Other ways you can prevent or avoid occupational strains and injuries in your workplace include:

  • Asking for help with moving heavy objects or patients
  • Relying on ergonomic assistive devices including:
    • Hoists, rolling toilets, or showering chair
    • Sheets made with slip fabric
  • Installing grab bars for patients to hoist themselves with little or no need for assistance
  • Using safe, manual lifting methods to protect your back
    • Use proper positioning when lifting by standing close to the patient, having one foot stabilizing you while you lift
    • Keep your knees bent
    • Do not lift in one big motion, but slowly and gradually
  • Learning to say no if you have been asked to perform a physically tolling or dangerous activity in your workplace that puts your wellbeing at risk or if frequently asked to work overtime

It’s important to know your rights as a healthcare worker.

You deserve to enter your workplace feeling safe.

You do not have to leave every shift in pain or discomfort, as you can always ask for help when performing physically-demanding tasks.

Earn Your First Aid and Other Certifications With Ease

By implementing strategies that protect your physical wellbeing in your workplace, you will find yourself less distracted by the pain and physical discomfort and more able to thrive in your setting.

You’ll feel more motivated and excited to work as you know you will leave your shifts feeling less weak and exhausted.

If you are in better physical condition, you will find yourself in a better mental state to continue learning and growing in the field.


Fortunately, ProMed Certifications understands your busy scheduling and has created a learning platform for your convenience.

Through ProMed, you can earn your ACLS, PALS, BLS, First Aid, and CPR training online whenever you have free time.

With these certifications, you will be an asset to your healthcare team, especially in the case of an emergency, including occupational accidents.

With ProMed, you can pause and pick up your learning whenever you feel like continuing your education.

If you aren’t satisfied, you have a 100% money-back guarantee.

Start your training now with ProMed.