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OSHA plans stricter health care safety measures for nurses

OSHA has notified its regional divisions that it wants to investigate, audit and fine residential care facilities and hospitals for occupational safety issues. This is the agency's move to address the high number of injuries among health care providers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country.

According to the enforcement director of OSHA, more workplace injuries are reported in the health care sector than in any other general industry segment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also rates the incident of occupational injuries higher in the health care sector than others even though controls are in place to address dangers. In 2012, there was a 6.6 incidence rate of nonfatal illnesses and injuries in hospitals and a 7.6 incidence rate in residential care and nursing facilities. The average in the private sector is 3.4 percent, and the health care rate is even higher than the construction and the gas and oil extraction industry groups.

Due to this, the agency is expanding its National Emphasis Program on Nursing and Residential Care Facilities. It will use both collaborative and enforcement efforts to address dangers such as bloodborne pathogens, exposure to tuberculosis, musculoskeletal disorders from lifting and workplace violence. The plan is to allocate resources to inpatient facilities that have higher occupational injury and illness rates than the industry average.

Furthermore, studies suggest that hospitals can reduce musculoskeletal injuries if their nurses use special lifting equipment. After implementing the use of moving equipment, hospital nursing injuries across the Veterans Health Administration fell by an average 40 percent. When occupational safety is compromised in any industry, workers who are injured as a result may wish to speak to an attorney to determine how to proceed. They may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits that could pay for their medical bills and provide a percentage of the income lost while they are unable to work. An attorney can often be of assistance in the preparation and filing of the required claim.

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