OSHA Announces Healthcare Outreach Campaign

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new outreach campaign in July.  The campaign will aim to protect health care workers.  More specifically, the program will raise awareness about the hazards to health care workers that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include sprains, strains, soft tissue and back injuries.  Improperly handling patients is the leading cause of these types of injuries.  According to the news release, OSHA will provide “2,500 employers, unions and associations in the health care industry in Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia with information about methods used to control hazards, such as lifting excessive weight during patient transfers and handling. OSHA is also providing information about how employers can include a zero-lift program, which minimizes direct patient lifting by using specialized lifting equipment and transfer tool”.

The campaign is necessary due to the large number of reported MSD injuries.  In 2010, the private industry reported 40,030 occupational MSD cases in which the source of the injury or illness was a patient or resident of a health care facility.  99% of the cases involving patient handling were due to overexertion and resulted in sprain, strain or tear injuries.

The injuries affect nursing aides, orderlies and attendants in 49% of MSD cases, registered nurses in 17% and home health aides in 6% of cases.

“The best control for MSDs is an effective prevention program,” said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia. “Our goal is to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in promoting effective processes to prevent injuries”.

If you want to learn more about OSHA’s recommendations on safe patient handling, click here.

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