The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has advised its field staff to focus on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) related to patient or resident handling; bloodborne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls when inspecting hospitals and nursing homes, the agency announced June 25.
U.S. hospitals recorded nearly 58,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2013 (the most current reporting year), amounting to 6.4 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees, nearly twice as high as the overall rate per 100 FTEs for private industry.
“Almost half of all reported injuries in the health care industry were attributed to overexertion and related tasks. Nurses and nursing assistants each accounted for a substantial share of this total,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “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. There are feasible solutions for preventing these hazards and now is the time for employers to implement them.”
Under updated fatality and severe injury reporting rules that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015, employers are required to report fatalities to OSHA within eight hours of learning about them and amputations, losses of an eye, and hospitalizations for work-related injuries and illnesses within 24 hours of learning about them. The intent is to facilitate targeted inspections and allow OSHA officials and employers to effectively abate hazards and promote prevention.