Your job can be exhausting and demanding, from long shifts to stressful situations. But if you suffer an injury while you’re at work, you won’t be able to care for your patients to the best of your ability. You may not even be able to work at all.

In 2016, there were nearly 19,800 reported injuries sustained by nurses that kept them from working. So, what can you do to prevent these injuries from happening to you?

1. Handle sharp tools with care

Using needles and other sharp tools like scalpels is a necessary part of your job. However, you can sustain serious cuts or needlestick injuries from objects like these. An open cut can also increase your risk of contracting illnesses and bloodborne diseases, even if you wear gloves.

When dealing with needles or other sharp tools, keep the following safety measures in mind:

  • Make sure any items you might need are close by, like gauze or bandages
  • Only unwrap or uncover the object when you are ready to use it
  • Don’t point the sharp end towards yourself
  • Dispose the tool immediately after using it or store it properly if it’s reusable

2. Listen to your body

Spending long shifts performing the same task can take a toll on your body. These repetitive motions can make your muscles grow weary or cramp up, eventually resulting in serious muscle or nerve damage.

Give yourself breaks throughout your shift to prevent pain and overexertion. Sit if you’ve been standing for too long or switch up tasks if you’ve been working at something for a while. Giving your muscles a chance to stretch and refresh can help you feel more prepared to safely tackle the rest of your shift.

3. Use equipment when provided

Back injuries are common in any industry, and healthcare is no exception. Lifting and transferring patients can wear out your back. Even if you aren’t fatigued, you run the risk of suddenly pulling a muscle in your back by lifting patients or other heavy objects.

Using lift or transfer equipment when it’s available can help prevent injury in yourself and your patient. If it’s not available at your workplace, you should ask a coworker for help.

Suffering from a work-related injury can keep you from being there for your patients. If it’s serious enough, you may even face lost wages and expensive medical treatment. Reaching out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you receive the benefits you may be entitled to so you can focus on your recovery.