Nursing homes draw OSHA emphasis program

By: April 6th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

With workers in nursing and residential care facilities experiencing injuries “2.3 times higher than that of all private industry,” OSHA announced a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to protect workers from serious safety and health hazards that are common in medical industries.

“These are people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are not well. It is not acceptable that they continue to get hurt at such high rates,” according to Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health in an agency news release. “Our new emphasis program for inspecting these facilities will strengthen protections for society’s caretakers.”

Workplace hazards that the NEP will focus on include: exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material; exposure to other communicable diseases such as tuberculosis; exposure to hazardous chemicals and drugs; ergonomic stressors related to lifting patients; workplace violence; slips, trips and falls.

The NEP became effective April 5 and will expire in three years.

Comments

By Bruce Cunha on April 10th, 2012 at 10:05 am

This is one of those mixed bag announcements. Nursing homes are the second highest regulated group – just below the Nuclear industry.

The workers do not earn great wages and keeping staffing levels up to meet the needs of the patients and provide a safe environment is hard considering most nursing home patients are on medicare or medicaid. No health care facility can make it on medicare rates.

Not saying that nursing homes cannot improve their safety processes, but you have to have the correct number of staff to do that and if you don’t get the money to pay that staff, how do you hire corrent numbers or buy the lift equipment.

I worked for 20 years on the board of directors of a nursing home. I have seen the issues and am not sure having OSHA beat them over the head with fines is the answer. If OSHA could only change to a process where they inspected and worked wtih you to solve safety issues instead of trying to fine you into submission, perhaps things might get better.

Given NEP, what anticipatory steps should hospitals consider at this point?

Thank you,
Paula Ashley

By Corrine DeJarnette, RN on April 12th, 2012 at 8:41 am

Would like to hear more comments on this subject

By connie phipps on April 12th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Does the National Emphasis program include critical access hospitals?

Also how often are hospitals inspected by OSHA?

thank you.

 

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