Nurses in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are exposed to a number of dangers, so both for their sake and for their patients’ sake, they need to know how to stay safe and healthy. The following are some basic steps to that end.

It all starts with washing one’s hands: the number one way to prevent illness. Nurses should also stay up to date on their vaccinations. The flu vaccine is particularly important because influenza can be easily acquired and passed on through coughing and sneezing. Other conditions to be vaccinated against include hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria.

Nurses should wear personal protective equipment like gloves, gowns and masks to protect against bloodborne pathogens. Needlestick- and sharps-related injuries are not uncommon among nurses, so another step is to safely handle all needles, not recap them and properly dispose of them.

Ergonomic injuries being common, nurses should practice good body mechanics and, for instance, never hunch over or remain in the same position for a long period of time. Next, they should use lift and transfer devices rather than risk injuring their backs. Nurses should not be afraid to ask for help, especially when faced with violent patients. The last two tips are to get plenty of sleep and to eat healthy.

Everyone knows that drowsiness increases the risk for injury among nurses and that poor diet and lack of exercise makes them more susceptible to illness. However, even when employees are partially to blame for their injuries, they can still have a case under workers’ compensation law. In other words, they may still be reimbursed for their medical expenses and a portion of the wages they lost during their recovery. Just as for any other work injury, nurses in Pennsylvania should engage certified specialist workers’ compensation lawyers to assist them with their claims.