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Nurse injuries from lifting patients - your rights when injured at work


Working in nursing takes a physical and mental toll, with employees in healthcare suffering injuries at one of the highest rates of any Australian industries.

Safe Work Australia estimates serious injury claims in the healthcare sector increased by 20% between 2000 and 2015.

With the healthcare sector growing as Australia’s population ages, it’s important Australia’s nearly 420,000 nurses know their workplace rights.

Your right to a safe workplace

Nurses have a right to a safe workplace. This right applies to all nurses, whether they are an Australian citizen or visa holder, full-time or casual.

Healthcare providers, such as hospitals, have a legal responsibility to protect nurses and other employees from harm while working.

If a nurse or healthcare worker is injured or catches a disease due to work, they have the right to claim workers compensation to support themselves while they recover.

If you think you may be eligible for workers compensation, a chat with our expert lawyers will help you understand your legal rights.

Risks of being a nurse

The high degree of serious injury in the healthcare industry reflects the various hazards nurses and healthcare workers are exposed to.

Some common risk factors nurses experience include:

  • Illness or disease caught in the workplace
  • Muscle strains due to heavy lifting or poor posture
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Slips or falls at work
  • Psychological injury due to stress, traumatic situations and relationships with co-workers

Learn more in our workplace hazards for nurses interactive.

What are the lifting requirements for nurses?

The high rate of back injuries among nurses prompted many Australian healthcare providers to adopt the ‘No Lift System’. The No Lift System uses specialist equipment to move patients, improving their safety and reducing lifting injuries to nurses and healthcare staff.

While the No Lift System is considered to have reduced back injuries significantly in workplaces where it has been implemented, nurses may still have to lift patients in emergency situations, as well as lift equipment or other items in their role.

How much weight can a nurse lift? 

There aren’t strict weight limits on what weight workers, including nurses, can responsibly lift. Within employers’ responsibility to their employees is an obligation to identify lifting tasks and reduce the risk involved.

If a nurse is injured lifting a weight expected of them within their role, the employer will have breached their responsibility if the weight was unreasonably heavy or difficult to handle.

Injured working in healthcare? How Shine Lawyers can help

If you’ve been injured or suffered an illness from your work in healthcare, you may be eligible for workers compensation. Our workers compensation experts can help you claim compensation to support your recovery.

If you’re looking to make a claim, contact us to arrange a no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 23, 2021.

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