10 Common CNA Workplace Injuries and How to Avoid Them

The nursing profession is the largest among all healthcare careers. With more than 1.5 million employed CNA in the US alone, many of them work in various environments under varying conditions. As every CNA job comes with its own challenges and pressure, it’s important to take measures to stay safe while at work.

Following are some of the most common workplace injuries that CNAs face, and how to avoid them:

This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

1) Cuts

Nurses often cut around their hands and fingers which can develop into serious infections if not treated properly.

how to avoid them:

  • Always wear gloves when you are going to perform a procedure or treatment that might cause bleeding, such as starting an IV line. There are different types of gloves for different procedures. For example, latex-free gloves can be used for patients who have latex allergy. Nitrile gloves, on the other hand, provide better protection against hazardous materials and bloodborne pathogens.
  • You can also try using longer cuffed sleeves or full body gowns if your job involves exposure to hazardous materials or infectious diseases.
  • Use proper tools that will help prevent any injury. For example, needleless connectors reduce blunt injuries that nurses often experience while starting IV lines. It has built-in safety features like finger guards and lockout reservoirs to prevent nurses from getting hurt.

2) Hand injuries

Also known as cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), hand injuries are common among all healthcare workers. The most common cause of this injury is repetitive motions – actions like typing on a keyboard or maneuvering surgical tools can severely damage the nerves, tendons, and muscles in the hands.

hand injuries how to avoid them:

  • Avoid performing any type of task repeatedly without taking rest breaks
  • Use ergonomic keyboards that reduce stress on your wrists. You can also try using voice-activated software if you need to operate certain devices for long hours
  • Stop immediately any procedure that causes tingling sensation in your fingers or numbness in your palms
  • Take frequent breaks when treating patients with deep wounds

3) Injuries from falls

In some hospitals, nurses have to walk on stairs or stand on a ladder when they need to reach certain equipment or supplies. This can put them at risk of falling and hurting themselves. When performing such tasks, it is crucial for nurses to use proper steps and ladders that don’t slip and make them more secure. They should also wear shoes with rubber soles and non-slip heels, which will provide better traction when walking on wet floors.

how to avoid them:

  • Always inspect the area where you plan to work in before starting your shift  This is important because most injuries happen due to poor lighting conditions, slippery flooring materials like polished concrete blocks, broken cords, and damaged electrical outlets
  • Place brightly colored wet floor signs to avoid any accidents when working on the same area for a long time
  • Get rid of loose rugs and other furniture that might slip if someone trips on it
  • Make sure you’re provided with proper equipment according to patient’s needs (i.e., long handled reacher for bed bound patients)
  • Do not wear dangling jewelry or clothing items that might get caught on anything as you move around the room.
  • Keep your hair tied back so it doesn’t obstruct your vision either.

4) Injuries from working with toxic patients.

Sensitive nurses might find themselves getting stressed out when having to deal with unpleasant, combative or aggressive patients that can lead to injuries. If you’re the type who has strong reactions to patient’s behaviors, avoid working with them altogether

how to avoid them:

  • Report any incidents of assault immediately so proper security measures are in place if necessary

Additional Tips: Take time off work every once in a while even if you haven’t used all your vacation days yet. This is not an admission of guilt if you need stress management tools like breathing exercises or stretches for muscle tension after dealing with particularly difficult patients. Just make sure that you’re well enough to return to work after your wellness leave.

5) Injuries from needles

Many nurses have been accidentally poked by a needle that has just been used by a patient. While some may experience only minor pain, being stuck by a dirty or contaminated needle will put them at risk of developing life-threatening infection. Besides protecting themselves with gloves, it is important for nurses to always dispose needle caps after removing them from syringes, place used ones in containers designated for medical waste, and choose safe disposal options like autoclave.

how to avoid them:

  • Always remember the “two finger” rule when grasping needles that have just been used by patients. This means putting two fingers under the needle cap before removing it, so you will be less likely to get stabbed
  • If you are stuck by a needle, wash your hands immediately with soap and water
  • Immediately report all accidents involving blood or body fluids to your supervisor so they can provide proper treatment for you right away. You should also inform them about possible symptoms of infections like fever, headache, or general pain in other parts of the body like joints.

6) Back injuries from lifting patients

Lifting patients without using proper equipment might lead to serious back injuries because this puts your back and leg muscles under too much stress. Foldable hoists are therefore designed to provide proper support so nurses can lift patients safely, yet comfortably.

Nurses who perform certain procedures like CPR or manual lifting might develop a serious spinal injury that requires an operation to relieve pain and restore movement. This is why it is crucial for all nurses to take safety measures when they lift patients, such as having proper body mechanics and using equipment that will prevent them from injuring their back.

how to avoid them:

  • Use carts with four or more wheels whenever possible, instead of carrying heavy objects or devices by hand Using carts will allow you to transfer heavier loads in one trip, which minimizes the risk of tripping and falling
  • Remove heavy equipment from carts using your leg muscles to reduce stress on your back
  • Choose the right posture when lifting or transferring patients. Place one hand under their back and another under their knees, then pull up straight and don’t twist your body when carrying them
  • Get your equipment ready before raising or lowering a patient from the bed
  • Check if the patient needs additional support to prevent their body from sliding down in an uncontrolled manner
  • Raise or lower patients slowly and with caution when using hoists

7) Injuries from lifting heavy equipment.

Lifting heavy equipment is a common hazard among nurses, especially those who work in emergency rooms and labor and delivery departments. Even though there is a nursing shortage, hospitals sometimes expect nurses to carry equipment from one place to another.

how to avoid them:

  • Make sure you have all the necessary help when required
  • Inspect the equipment before using it for any defects or damage
  • Get extra training on how to lift correctly.
  • Avoid overstretching your back by bending your knees, keeping your legs straight and then lifting up with your leg muscles instead of your back. Proper body mechanics can increase productivity without increasing injury risks.
  • If you’re feeling pain while lifting heavy objects, ask if you can replace them with items that are lighter or use a cart instead. You can also ask if you can have equipment that is more appropriate for your size.

8) Injuries from electrical equipment.

When using medical equipment that involves electricity, it is important to take proper safety measures. One common injury happens when nurses do not turn off power sources – called “arc flash” – which can cause severe burns. This is why it is crucial for nurses to always know the correct procedure to shut down electrical equipment and avoid accidents caused by tripping over cords.

how to avoid them:

  • Use insulated medical devices when working with electricity
  • Be careful not to trip over cords or wires when walking around in a patient’s room

Additional Tips: Always turn off power sources before removing plugs from sockets, even if it is just for a moment when unplugging an extension cord. Don’t rely on unplugging something as your only safety measure. Better yet, use cordless equipment whenever possible instead of cables.

9) Injuries from broken glass.

Broken glass can hurt nurses while they’re cleaning up spills, lifting bottles of chemicals, or other common tasks.

how to avoid them:

  • Use the right type of gloves for your work environment
  • Make sure all sharps are disposed of properly, and only place discarded materials inside autoclave bags that are puncture resistant. This will prevent injuries from sharp shards of glass that happen when using the wrong method for disposing contaminated items.
  • If you accidentally cut yourself by breaking something, follow universal precautions or standard precautions until wound is treated. You can take time off without losing pay even if it’s a first aid injury as long as you make sure there was no blood contact with patient..

10) Injuries from chemicals such as chemotherapy drugs or disinfectants used in hospitals or nursing homes.

Chemotherapy drugs are often toxic, which makes it important for nurses who work with them to follow safety protocols like wearing protective gear and disposing of them in safe containers.

how to avoid them:

  • Always wear gloves, goggles and masks when working with chemotherapy drugs
  • Use pipettes instead of your fingers for accurate dosing
  • Keep these drugs away from other chemicals as much as possible. Label all storage containers clearly, and choose the right disposal method according to hospital protocol. For instance, chemo waste should be soaked up by kitty litter or paper towels first before being placed inside a sturdy plastic bag for further processing by hazardous waste department. Don’t pour chemicals down the drain – this usually leads to contamination of water supply.
  • Follow state laws regarding proper disposal methods for chemotherapy wastes.

Injuries come in all sorts of forms when you work in the medical field. By being aware of your surroundings and paying attention to small details, you can help prevent them from happening or at least limit their severity a great deal. The main point is that no one gets injured on purpose if they’re not careless about their actions so always have a responsible attitude towards your work habits.