In Early April, the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) designed to help prevent ergonomic injuries and workplace violence for nursing and residential care facilities. OSHA will be addressing this industry for the next three years through the NEP, providing guidance to OSHA compliance officers on targeting and conducting inspections in facilities for hazards such as:
- Blood or other infectious material
- Communicable disease exposure
- Ergonomic stressor related to patient lifting
- Workplace violence
- Slips, trips, and falls
This program by the Labor Department and OSHA is long in the waiting as many have been concerned that not enough was being done to help address and prevent workplace injuries in health care industries. In fact, Service Employees International, the largest healthcare union with more than 1.1 million members in the field, claimed that OSHA does little in terms of enforcement or rulemaking related to health care industries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the incident rate for cases involving days away from work in the nursing and residential care sector was 2.3 times higher than that of all private industry as a whole, despite the availability of feasible controls to address hazards. What’s more, data shows that 48% of all reported injuries in nursing care facilities for 2010 were due to overexertion. Injuries from slips, trips, and falls were also very commonly reported among the nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases reported in nursing and residential care facilities. Combined, overexertion and slips, trips, and falls accounted for 51.4% of all reported cases with days away from work within this industry for 2010.
In addition, in 2010, BLS data reported approximately 2,130 assaults by persons in nursing and residential care facilities.
“These are people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are not well. It is not acceptable that they continue to get hurt at such high rates,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “Our new emphasis program for inspecting these facilities will strengthen protections for society’s caretakers.”
Risk management, including solid workplace safety programs, is critical for this industry. Caitlin-Morgan can provide you with assistance in helping your healthcare clients mitigate risk through effective safety programs and insurance solutions. Please give us a call at 877.226.1027.