A nurse helping a nursing home resident walk

A first-of-its-kind alliance between a Colorado nursing home advocacy group and a federal safety agency will educate workers about common hazards in their field, as well as whistleblower protections. 

The Colorado Health Care Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration signed an agreement for the trade group to have an “ambassador-level alliance.” It is the first long-term care advocacy group to reach this level, according to a spokeswoman for the US Department of Labor. 

“The Alliance is really about a two-way dialogue between providers and OSHA,” said Doug Farmer, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Care Association, in a statement to McKnights Long-Term Care News on Monday. “Since part of OSHA’s mandate is to educate employers and employees, we think we are uniquely suited to help get those messages out to long-term care providers. We are also able to share information with OSHA from the perspective of our provider members that may influence how OSHA interacts with long-term care.”

The OSHA Alliance Program works with unions, trade groups, businesses, and other organizations to increase safety and health to prevent workplace deaths, illnesses, and injuries, according to a press release announcing the alliance. There are two alliance levels: a basic one and the ambassador level into which the Colorado Health Care Association has entered. 

The Labor Department spokeswoman said the basic alliances operate within a defined timeframe, usually two or three years. Ambassador-level partnerships remain ongoing, she said. 

“OSHA and the Colorado Health Care Association join in the commitment to protect nursing home and assisted living care workers in Colorado from serious hazards encountered in this industry so they can go home safely every day,” OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous for Denver said in a statement. 

OSHA and the Colorado Health Care Association will develop compliance assistance resources and educate both workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.