safety on the job

Nurses General Nursing


I was excited to begin my nursing program in the fall, but one of my family members saw a program on fox news channel concerning the safety of nurses on the job. They rated the job of nursing to be on the same, or slightly lower, danger scale as a police officer or security officer. I am feeling a little apprehensive of working in a potentially dangerous field. The safety issues I am concerned about are reports of violent patient attacks, rape, sexual harrassment. I did not see the program myself, but I would like to know if many of you nurses have been assaulted at work, or what, if any safety measures are taken at your work places.


108 Posts

Specializes in All Surgical Specialties.

I have worked in Nursing for 17 years. I have never experienced an assault and only witnessed one. The assault I witnessed was perpetrated by a confused old lady who slapped a nurse.

I didn't see the program, but I'll bet there were a lot of generalized statements made about the dangers of these professions. I doubt the police who work in Minot, ND. have the same level of daily concern for their safety as one who works in South Central LA. or Miami Fl.

Not only the field of nursing which you plan to practice but the geography should be considered. I work in a suburban hospital in a good neighborhood. I would feel safe anywhere around here outdoors 24 hours a day. Our security guards don't even have guns! Just five miles north is an urban hospital in a neighborhood where I don't like to drive in broad daylight. There is a very real danger of injury due to random violence anywhere on that institution's campus indoors or out.

As far as fields of practice are concerned, I have no fear of violence from my patients. What I do have to fear is the equipment I use and the chance that I may contract a lethal illness from a fluid splash. I doubt that the nurse who works at my child's school clinic has these concerns.

Would the nurses in question feel safer wearing body armor and carrying a gun? In most cases I doubt it would make any difference. How many lethal objects do you have in your kitchen?

In the wrong hands a tablespoon can become a lethal weapon, the wrong combinations of cleansers can explode or give off poisonous fumes.

All of this is to show you that sensationalism for the purpose of television entertainment is rampant and danger is a matter of perception. There is danger everywhere, but it must be put into perspective


2,709 Posts

I live in NYC & wanted to purchase private disability insurance to enhance the disability insurance provided by my employer & the state. I shopped around to several different insurance companies and found that the job of Registered Nurse is right up there on the red-flag list with the other high-risk job titles of NYC policeman and fireman, among others.

"RN" was in the category that would have to pay the highest premiums because they were recognized by the insurance companies to be at very high risk for disabilities due to the nature of their work. Maybe policemen in SD dont have the same degree of work related risk as nurses there but for the job of RN to be universally recognized by the insurance industry as having the same degree of work-related health risk as a NYC policeman, thats really saying something! Youd think nurses would be more vocal about this & more proactive in demanding changes to protect their safety. But mostly all nurses do is "vent" about it. Youd think there would be a mass nationwide uprising or outcry by nurses over this. But only a small percentage of the nations nurses (the ANA , other nursing organizations, unionized nurses and a relative handful of individual others) are working to make state & federal changes that would make their workplace safer. The rest just advocate leaving nursing & let the problems persist. If the cops & firemen & construction workers did that, where would the city be? Nurses have only to look at themselves as a whole to understand why we have all these problems.

As a matter of fact, the job title "RN" was listed as a worse risk than a construction worker & the premimums the RN would have to pay for the insurance were higher than that a construction worker would have to pay. In effect, the insurance companies are saying that RNs have more work-related health risks than a construction worker who works in an environment of falling brick & concrete, is surrounded by heavy machinery that can mangle a limb in a moment, & walks a scaffold many stories above ground on a daily basis.

Construction workers have demanded & obtained safety harnesses, machine safety regulations & many other workplace safety measures. Cops here demanded & obtained bullet-proof vests, elimination of rotating shifts, banning single-officer patrols -meaning they are always with a partner on the street & in the patrol car. NYC Firemen demanded & obtained safer bunkergear & equipment, safer policies for fighting a fire, etc. etc etc.

What have nurses ever demanded?


2,709 Posts

>The focus of the current American Nurses Association Online Survey is to poll nurses nationwide on the health and safety conditions in their health care facilities. The Online Survey is being conducted until mid-August.

Please take a moment to participate in this nationwide nurse survey. It takes 2 minutes........

also, go to the Nurse Activism/Politics section of to read articles on the topic of safety in the workplace......

and the website of the American Nurses Association.......

There is much of the info youre looking for out there.


215 Posts

Jess K.,

It also depends on the type of job and the locations where you expect to work as a nurse. I have worked in nontraditional high-risk positions. My most serious injuries are due to my co-workers. Which was also true about my pre-nursing positions as well.

For instance: if you decide to do disaster rescue or relief work then you will be in a very high-risk group especially if you are responding to locations of civil unrest or acts of terrorism.

If you are working in a telephone triage position the risk is limited (none are nonexistent).

Dumb things my co-workers did to me include:

Unsupervised teenage kitchen workers mixing bleach and ammonia to clean the floors above my worksite. Now I have a nice case of occupational asthma from chlorine gas.

Smoke inhalation from a co-worker setting their office on fire with an aroma therapy candle that exploded. Of course the candle was a scent that triggers anaphylaxis in me.

Life is full of risk, some are fun, some are scary, and some are fun and scary. I do enjoy fun and scary which is probably why I like nursing.

P.S. My mother who nursed for 40 years never had a work related injury or illness despite working ED and OR. And I am not counting the time she got hurt jumping on her dorm bed at graduation time!


6,011 Posts


Aside from the bites and pinches and slaps my little old ladies gave, I have been assaulted twice.

Once a visitor shoved me into a doorframe. (I called the police and swore out a warrant!)

The second was worse. A patient in DTs kicked me in the face, breaking my cheekbone and giving me a concussion with a 10-15 min LOC.

And guess what? You can't file an assault warrant on a patient for assault in SC. I could only make a WC claim. I still have a funny dimple there on my cheek. Goes well with the droopy eyelid on the other side from Bell's Palsy.

I am glad to see that Nursing is recognised as a dangerous occupation, but I'm sad to see that protective insurance is rated on that basis for Nurses.:rolleyes:

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