Why nursing and construction are equally dangerous

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 Nursing is ranked the fifth most dangerous occupation in the world. [iStockphoto]

Most nurses in Kenya are silently suffering from work-related disorders, a new study has revealed.

About 70 per cent of nurses are exposed to work-related musculoskeletal disorders that negatively impact their output, according to the study by Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST).

The disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome and tension neck syndrome. Others are hernia, sprains, strains, trauma, back pain and arthritis.

The researchers attributed it to long hours of static work with awkward postures, heavy load lifting, repetitive movement and handling many patients. Understaffing also sees nurses working 12 hours a day without rest.

The study titled, Risk Factors for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders among Nurses in Kakamega County, involved 400 nurses in private and public hospitals. The findings were published in the Open Access Library Journal this April.

 Low back pain leads to low work output and absenteeism from work. [iStockphoto]

The majority of respondents were female at 76.9 per cent while 23.1 per cent were male.

The average age of the nurses was 35, with a majority being above 40 and had worked for one to five years.

The researchers were Dr Issah Kweyu, Micky Olutende and Elizabeth Mse from the Department of Health Promotion and Sports Science and Dr Maximila Wanzala from the Department of Public Health.

According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), nursing is ranked the fifth most dangerous occupation in the world after construction workers, air traffic controllers, traffic police officers and stock handlers.

Eileen Mulaa, a sports scientist at Enafit Wellnes avers that low back pain leads to low work output and absenteeism from work. This then leads to a high wage bill for the hospital or employer that has to treat the nurses.

 Understaffing also sees nurses working 12 hours a day without rest. [iStockphoto]

Mulaa advises that to manage the problem, health facilities should sensitise staff on the need for physical exercise or have a workplace fitness programme or a fitness facility.

“The Nursing Council should include exercise science in the nursing curriculum to enable nurses prescribe proper exercises to their patients and have knowledge on dealing with low back pain, among other occupation-related hazards,” said Mulaa.

She said observing OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Association) guidelines at any work place saves on medical treatment and time lost during treatment and recovery from injuries.

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