Guest Columns

What OSHA's new ruling means for you

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Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ
Martie L. Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ

The final rule revision of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's regulation on Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (29 CFR 1904) is coming to fruition.

Ask any healthcare provider what the revised ruling means and you will hear several different interpretations. Some spot on, others a little, well, spot off. 

The new rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data to OSHA that they are already required to keep under OSHA regulations. The content of these establishment-specific submissions depends on the size and industry of the employer. Employers will need to review which form(s) and process is the correct one for their size and setting to assure data submission. The data will be made public but will not include personally identifiable associated with the data. In order to ensure the completeness and accuracy of injury and illness data collected by employers and reported to OSHA, the final rule also requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation.

This new ruling impacts all healthcare settings. It is a little hidden, but when you dig deeper into the regulations, the high-risk industries are outlined and healthcare settings are described. The majority of the ruling goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Provisions around retaliation and informing employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses will now be enforced November 1. You can learn more about this specific section by visiting this U.S. Department of Labor link

In a statement, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels says, “The new regulation will ‘nudge' employers to prevent workplace injuries and create safer environments.” Why would healthcare settings need a nudge? They remain one of the most hazardous places to work, with high numbers of reported work-related injuries. For some, it can be career ending. The only other industry as high or higher is construction. The “nudge” to us is to assure that we continually look at our workplace environments with safety as one of the foremost value and goals we demonstrate in our leadership and decisions. 

I will never forget speaking with a nurse who had to leave the profession due to the injury she sustained while on shift one night. In a second, her life changed dramatically. For other healthcare providers, repetitive use over time can result in injury. 

As OSHA tries to better understand what's going on in the work environment through these new regulations, we all need to do our part to re-think that environment too. Organizations must challenge themselves to create places where clinicians want to work in, and truly understand what goes into making sure safe-patient handling is indeed safe for both patient and caregiver. Online education like Medline University also can enhance clinician skills and drive new techniques and thinking around safety. Knowing that caregivers' hands are the most trusted tools, organizations need to also explore new ways to nurture those tools, and ensure that they're truly protected.

When we take better care of our caregivers, we show that we value them.

While we have worked hard to create safer workplaces, we still have work to do. My hope is that through the data analytics gained from the revised regulations, new insight and innovation will continue to emerge to protect the hands, backs, shoulders and bodies of those who care for others. 

Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ is the chief nursing officer at Medline Industries Inc. and a corporate advisory council member for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.