Survey finds nursing injury and infection levels high

5 April 2017

Just under a quarter of nurses reported a workplace injury or related-infection in the past two years in an ongoing upward trend, according to the latest NZNO nursing survey.

Heavy lifting was responsible for 16 per cent of the injuries reported by respondents to the 2017 New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Employment Survey which was released publically last month. (see earlier story)

The two-yearly survey was sent out to a random sample of NZNO's total membership and 691 nurses responded – a roughly 15 per cent response rate.

Survey researcher Dr Leonie Walker said 157 respondents reported a workplace inuury or occupationally-acquired infection – which was up two per cent on 2015 and was a 100 per cent increase on the rates reported in 2013.

While heavy lifting was the most comment, seven respondents reported injuries related to workplace violence – four due to assaults on staff by patients.  Respondents working in medical, surgical or palliative care settings were most likely to report lifting injuries (about 28-30%) followed by emergency & trauma (around 20%) then perioperative nursing, intensive care and continuing care (elderly) were the next most likely (roughly around 17%).

Nearly 10 per cent of respondents required time-off with a workplace-related infection. The most common infections were flu or norovirus.  One respondent reported a needle-stick injury.

Respondents reported a diverse response from their employers to their workplace injury or infection ranging from very satisfied and thorough to very unhappy and unsupported.

When questioned about sick leave 21.6% per cent said they had taken no days off for injury or illness in the previous year and 25.5% had taken 1-2 days.  A further 25 per cent had taken 3-5 days and around 23 per cent had taken 6 or more.

When questioned further about impact of injury or illness on their work nearly four per cent said they had used all of their sick days in previous year with some having to take in addition annual leave or leave without pay.  Six people (1%) said they had had to contemplate early retirement due to their illness or injury.

(See also Moving & Handling story from print edition)

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