OSHA Emphasizes Safe Patient Handling Programs for Healthcare Workers
Nurses and other healthcare workers face many safety and health hazards in their work environments. In fact, healthcare workers experience some of the highest rates of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses of any industry sector. In 2012, injuries and illnesses reported for nursing and residential care workers were significantly higher than those in construction, and 2-3 times higher than in retail or manufacturing. Almost half of the injuries and illnesses reported for nurses and nursing support staffs were musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Reducing the number of MSDs in healthcare workers is a priority for OSHA. The agency revised its Guidelines for Nursing Homes, Ergonomics for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders and launched an educational outreach and enforcement program to address hazards specific to nursing homes. OSHA promotes a safety culture of prevention of harm for both patients and workers through injury and illness prevention programs.
OSHA also has a free “On-site Consultation Program” which provides confidential safety and health advice to small and medium-sized businesses committed to improving workplace safety and health. Notably, the On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement and do NOT result in penalties or citations.