Targeting some of the most common causes of workplace injury and illness in the health care industry, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced yesterday that the agency is expanding its use of enforcement resources in hospitals and nursing homes to focus on musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) related to patient or resident handling; bloodborne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls.
U.S. hospitals recorded nearly 58,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2013, amounting to 6.4 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees: almost twice as high as the overall rate for private industry.
“Workers who take care of us when we are sick or hurt should not be at such high risk for injuries — that simply is not right. Workers in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have work injury and illness rates that are among the highest in the country, and virtually all of these injuries and illnesses are preventable,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.
“OSHA has provided employers with education, training and resource materials, and it’s time for hospitals and the health care industry to make the changes necessary to protect their workers.”
OSHA has advised its staff through a memorandum that all inspections of hospitals and nursing home facilities, including those prompted by complaints, referrals or severe injury reports, should include the review of potential hazards involving MSDs related to patient handling; bloodborne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls.
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