How OSHA’s New Regulations Could Help Injured Nurses
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced intentions to end an epidemic of workplace injuries among health care workers. To accomplish its goals, OSHA will extend the reach of its National Emphasis Program on Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (NEPNRCF).
OSHA created the program in 2012 to reduce the high numbers of injuries among health care workers, especially nurses. However, health care workers are also regularly exposed to bloodborne pathogens and other diseases. Even slips, trips and falls are common in hospitals around the country. Department of Labor statistics show health care workers have the highest rates of workplace injuries.
For example, data from the Department of Labor shows nursing assistants suffer musculoskeletal injuries at a rate of 208 per 10,000 full-time workers. In other industries, the rate is 35.8 in 10,000 workers.
How Can Hospitals Help Reduce High Numbers Of Injured Nurses?
Some nursing injuries could be avoided if hospitals utilized equipment capable of lifting and transferring patients. OSHA has looked into requiring hospitals to adopt equipment that could help nurses avoid musculoskeletal injuries.
Currently, 11 states have enacted laws requiring safe patient handling programs and equipment. Safe patient handling programs teach nurses and health care workers how to use mechanical lifts and other equipment.
Musculoskeletal injuries can in some cases damage the spinal cord, resulting in disability. Nurses that have been injured lifting heavy patients may miss periods of work, or be unable to return to work altogether. Depending on the circumstances, injured nurses might be able to receive workers’ compensation or disability benefits.
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