The role of a Nurse is a risky one. Nurses are exposed to physical and psychological injuries every day. According to reports, the Health and Social Work Sector reports over 1,000 injuries each year to the Health and Safety Authority. This accounts for nearly 20% of all workplace injuries reported to the HSA each year.
I have come to learn that Nurses almost “expect” that they will suffer injuries in their job. In my experience, Nurses endure a lot and will carry on as best they can with their jobs. The reality is that a Nurse, no more than any other person in their place of work, should not be exposed to injuries by their employers. The following are examples of types of situations and injuries that I see re-occurring.
A Nurse’s job can involve anything from handling objects, such as trolleys to lifting patients. I have met many nurses who have suffered injuries to their back doing this task. An employer, be it the HSE or a private entity are obliged to properly and regularly train a Nurse in manual handling and must provide adequate personnel and equipment to enable the lift to be undertaken safely.
2. Slips, trips and falls
Floor surfaces must be suitable for the place they are in and they should be kept in good condition. Other problems are obstacles/items on the floor. Hospitals and other care facilities are busy places and people are often under pressure. This can, unfortunately, mean that you are left with floors that may be wet, greasy or have some item left on the floor. If you have fallen (and once you receive medical attention), try to see what caused your fall. You should also keep a note of the footwear that you were wearing as this may be needed if you seek advice from us at a later stage.
3. Work related violence
I have dealt with many nurses who have suffered terrible injuries when they have been assaulted at work. For example, I recently acted for a healthcare worker who was assaulted by one of the clients in the healthcare facility that she worked in. The health care facility was a high secure residential facility. The healthcare worker was physically assaulted by one of the clients and suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result. This client had a history of assaulting staff and it was clear that inadequate training had been provided to staff members. We were able to demonstrate this and succeeded in negotiating a five figure settlement sum. I also have advised Psychiatric Nurses who have been exposed to devastating injuries because of assaults. Again, the main issues that we look at, include the history of the service user, the appropriateness of the facility and what training was given.
If you have been injured, you may not know what to do next. I have tried to set out below a snap shot of the steps that you should take;
Medical Attention - Make sure you get the appropriate medical attention as soon possible for your injury.
Report it! – It may seem obvious but when you are injured you may forget how important it is to report the accident/incident to your superiors. You may be asked to complete an accident report form and you should ask your employer about that and seek a copy.
Who was there? - At Cantillons Solicitors, we recommend that you keep a note of any witnesses to the accident. If we are consulted at a later stage about your accident, we will speak to those witnesses.
Seek Advice - You may need advice on a Personal Injury claim* and what to do if you are out of work. Your employer does not have to pay you while you are out of work, unless it is provided for in a sick pay scheme. Often HSE employees will be entitled to sick pay unless their sick days are expired. Nurses have come to me with queries about their sick pay, visits to Occupational Health and applications to retire on grounds of ill-health.
Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] if you would like more information.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.