Revealing the hazards facing our nurses and midwives
A research collaboration between the University of Newcastle and the NSW Nurses' Association will reveal for the first time the current prevalence of needlestick and other sharps injuries to nurses and midwives in NSW.
A Lecturer in Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Newcastle, Ms Maya Guest, said understanding nurses' and midwives' perceptions of the risks associated with needlestick injuries as well as the prevalence, was vital to developing strategies to ensure a safe workplace.
"Needlestick injuries pose physical injury at the puncture site, potential exposure to blood borne viruses, and can lead to psychological distress.
"Nurses and midwives are the backbone of our health system, often working under highly complex and stressful conditions. We need to ensure appropriate safety and follow-up procedures are in place to prevent these injuries."
Researchers recently surveyed 7,500 members of the NSW Nurses' Association from public and private hospitals, aged-care facilities, disability services, and community centres based in city, regional, rural and remote areas.
The study into needlestick injuries, funded by WorkCover NSW in 2007, is one of three research projects currently underway by the University of Newcastle and the NSW Nurses' Association into the occupational health and safety of nurses and midwives.
The research collaboration was awarded another $290,000 from WorkCover NSW in 2008 for two additional studies. The first will investigate the rehabilitation of nurses and midwives injured in the workplace, and the second will explore resistance to care, workplace injury and its effects on the nursing workforce in NSW.
"Nursing has a high incidence rate of injury," Ms Guest said. "At a time of significant nursing shortages, it is important we investigate practises that can assist in the successful rehabilitation and return to work of injured nurses and midwives.
"This important collaboration between the University of Newcastle and the NSW Nurses' Association will provide new evidence on the health and safety of nurses and midwives which will translate into improved policies and procedures for the workplace," Ms Guest said.
All three research projects involve researchers from the University's School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing and Midwifery in collaboration with the Hunter Medical Research Institute's (HMRI) Public Health Research Program.
HMRI is a partnership between Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle and the community.
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