OSHA Launches Program To Protect Nursing Employees

A memo has been issued by OSHA reaffirming the requirement to provide safe working conditions for nursing staff, pursuant to guidance last year about injury incidence among care providers.

Annie Tritt for NPRThe OSHA memo, issued to nationwide healthcare administrators of inpatient facilities, outlines specific occupational safety elements that will be enforced in future inspections. According to the memo, "almost half (44 percent) of all reported injuries within the healthcare industry [...] were attributed to overexertion-related incidents," but the safety criteria include a number of other factors, including:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) relating to patient or resident handling,
  • Workplace violence (WPV),
  • Bloodborne pathogens (BBP),
  • Tuberculosis (TB), and
  • Slips, trips and falls (STFs).

OSHA reminds administrators that many resources have already been made available to help offer insight and promote best practices for safety among healthcare workers, such as the Safe Patient Handling site, and they have indicated that enforcement of safety guidelines for healthcare workers is a renewed priority.

Speaking to NPR, OSHA chief David Michaels said that a multi-part report, "Injured Nurses", was one of the motivating factors prompting them to issue this new guidance.

Fines for non-compliance will be steep, an OSHA official told NPR. A typical penalty would likely be $7,000 per hospital but it could be as high as $70,000 in cases where evidence suggests that hospital administrators deliberately ignored the problem.

Whether you operate an inpatient facility or not, has patient handling been an issue for you, your coworkers or employees? Have the memos or reports affected you or caught your attention? Let us know in the comments below!

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