The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has announced that it is expanding enforcement efforts focused on the healthcare industry. This effort is part of an overall increased focus on healthcare related injuries and illnesses recently announced by OSHA.
On June 25, 2015, OSHA has issued a memorandum instructing its staff that all inspections of hospitals and nursing home facilities, including those prompted by complaints, referrals or severe injury reports, should include the review of potential hazards involving musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) related to patient handling; bloodborne pathogens; workplace violence; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls.
The increased enforcement, and the attendant focus on particular causes of workplace injury and illness, result from an analysis of injury and illness data that revealed that certain causes of injury are much more prevalent in a health care setting. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2013 (the most recent data) more than 23,000 significant injuries were due to assault at work, and of those, greater than 70 percent were in healthcare and social service settings. In response, in April of this year, OSHA updated its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers, which includes industry best practices and highlights the most effective ways to reduce the risk of violence in various healthcare and social service settings.
Another example of a hazard that is much more likely to affect health care workers is tuberculosis. As noted by OSHA, in 2013, 9,582 TB cases were reported in the United States, and approximately 383 or nearly four percent, of those cases were among healthcare workers. Multi-drug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant TB continue to pose serious threats to workers in healthcare settings. OSHA announced this week that it was updating its inspection procedures for these settings.
Lastly, to address MSDs among nursing home and residential care worker, in 2014, OSHA developed a new brochure on Safe Patient Handling.
The injury and illness rate for health care workers, based on hospital records, in 2013 was 6.4 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees: almost twice as high as the overall rate for private industry. This the reason for the OSHA focus on the health care industry.
If you have questions about this or any other occupational safety and health issue, contact Pamela Elkow at 203-252-2672 or email@example.com or Joseph Wellington at 203-575-2613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.