Last month, OSHA announced that agency investigators would increase their focus on a set of new key hazards for the healthcare industry during upcoming inspections. These hazards will aim to address musculoskeletal disorders related to patient or resident handling; blood borne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis and slips, trips and falls.
To those in the healthcare industry, this announcement comes as no surprise. Workers in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have the highest work related injury and illness rates in the country. In 2013 alone, nearly 58,000 hospital workers reported a work related injury or illness, amounting to an incident rate almost twice as high as the rate for private industry overall. Close to half of these incidents reported relate to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) caused by overextension and other ergonomic stressors related to patient handling.
Proper workplace ergonomics are an essential component of any safety culture and can significantly reduce musculoskeletal disorders. Ensuring that workers are protected can also help employers avoid large penalties and fines. According to OSHA officials, penalties can range from a $7,000 fine to a $70,000 fine in situations where inspectors find that hospital administrators knowingly ignored ergonomic hazards.
Employers within the healthcare industry are encouraged to refine their safety program to include safe patient handling policies and procedures. Last year, OSHA launched an online resource portal for healthcare administrators looking to assess and implement safety programs related to safe patient handling and other ergonomic hazards. For information, tools and resources visit: www.osha.gov
Check out the infographic below for quick facts on how ergonomic hazards affect the healthcare industry!