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3 tips to avoid a back injury as a nurse

When you think of workplaces that require heavy lifting, you might first think of a warehouse or construction site. However, as a nurse or nursing assistant, your job requires a lot of lifting. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heavy lifting is getting worse for nurses because of increasing patient obesity and elderly patients who need assistance. 

This overexertion often leads to back injuries for health care workers. As someone responsible for taking care of others, it is crucial for you to be mindful of your risk of a back injury. Here are some tips for minimizing the chances of sustaining a back injury during your course of work. 

1. Use proper body mechanics

You might have learned about good lifting techniques back in school or your first job. Good lifting techniques include:

  • Warming up your muscles
  • Widening your stance for better balance
  • Bending at your knees and using your legs
  • Keeping your back straight

Follow these steps to reduce the chances of straining your back when lifting a patient. 

2. Get assistance from others

You should not have to lift every patient on your own. If you do not feel confident you will be able to safely transfer one of your patients, make sure you reach out to a co-worker. You might need two or three more people to accomplish certain tasks 

3. Take regular breaks

If you have been lifting and moving patients non-stop for your entire shift, it is going to take a toll on your back. Take a moment between lifts to give yourself time to recover. Pacing yourself will prevent overexertion.

You should not have to suffer a back injury simply because of your occupation. If you follow this advice, you should be able to reduce the likelihood of injuring your back. It should also reduce other musculoskeletal injuries to your shoulders and neck.

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