Government agency steps up efforts to reduce nursing home worker injuries

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Lifting, reposition and transferring patients increase risk of MSDs.
Lifting, reposition and transferring patients increase risk of MSDs.

The high rate of nursing home injuries can be lowered through better resident handling practices, according to a new guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA's new “Safe Patient Handling” brochure is part of its ongoing campaign to reduce the high rate of injuries among healthcare workers. Residential care and nursing staff experience some of the “highest rates of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses” — nearly twice the rate of those in construction, the agency noted.

It's estimated that half of reported injuries are related to musculoskeletal disorders that are preventable. MSDs include tendinitis, muscle strains, shoulder problems and lower back injuries, which often result from repeated, forceful movements related to the lifting, repositioning and transferring of residents.

Nursing assistants reported a rate of MSDs nearly four times higher than the average of all workers, OSHA reported. To reduce this rate, OSHA advises providers to use lifting equipment to implement a “successful safe patient handling program,” which has shown to reduce the rate of injuries associated with manual lifting by 95%.

For an online version of the brochure, click here.

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