The Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched a campaign to reduce the number of musculoskeletal injuries among long-term care workers this week. Nurses continue to experience high rates of injury related to manual handling of patients, despite efforts to improve healthcare worker safety.
“Our goal is to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in promoting effective processes to prevent injuries,” stated MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia.
The safety administration — part of the Labor Department — will distribute information to more than 2,500 employers, unions and healthcare associations in a region that includes Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The information will include methods for transferring patients safely. The administration is also encouraging zero-lift programs, through which direct lifting is eliminated by the use of equipment and tools.
The OSHA initiative comes on the heels of new national standards for safe patient handling from the American Nurses Association and a related bill in the House of Representatives. The “Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act” was introduced in June by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
On Wednesday, watchdog group Public Citizen called on OSHA to improve oversight of working conditions in the healthcare sector, and drew attention to the physical assault risks nursing facility workers face. The Public Citizen report is available here.