You might think of nursing as a fairly safe profession. After all, these individuals work in an environment where safety and illness and injury prevention are focal points. The fact of the matter is that nurses face some very serious hazards during each shift they work. These hazards can lead to missed wages if they have to take off work to address their illnesses and injuries. They can also lead to workers’ compensation claims, in some cases.

There are many things that nurses can do to reduce the risk of illnesses and injuries. None of these should be ignored. In fact, you might find that many of these are standard protocol for this profession. Just because you’ve been nursing for a while doesn’t mean that you should lose sight of these. Here are a few to get you started:

Practice safe lifting

People are heavier now than they once were. When you are trying to lift patients to transfer them or help them move, make sure that you are using proper methods. If there are lifts available in the room, use those so that you aren’t placing the entire strain on your back. If you don’t have lifts, make sure you have someone else who is able to help you maneuver the patient. Failing to use proper measures can lead to back pain and injuries.

Pay attention to body mechanics

There is a good chance that you will have to bend over frequently to care for your patients. Make sure that you are paying attention to your body mechanics as you move about during your shift. This includes when you are walking, sitting, standing, bending and doing anything else. Your goal is use ergonomically-correct movements so that you don’t suffer from cumulative injuries.

Wash your hands

Working closely with people who are contagious means that you need to take precautions to ensure that you don’t get sick. Washing your hands can help prevent the spread of infections. Not only will you help to avoid illness yourself, you can also prevent vulnerable patients from contracting opportunistic infections.

Remain cautious with needles

Being stuck by a needle is harrowing, especially if you know you have a patient with a condition like hepatitis C or HIV. Using proper protocols when handling needles can help you to avoid the risk of being stuck.

Avoid contact with bodily fluids

Some nurses might balk at having to wear masks with eye protection when starting IVs and doing certain other tasks. The fact is that these protective devices can help protect you from coming into direct contact with patients’ bodily fluids. On addition, you should also take other precautions, such as wearing gloves, gowns and shoe covers when you might be exposed in these areas.