Nursing Home Union Says Ergonomics Suit Will Jeopardize WorkerSafety

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is jeopardizing the safety of nursing\r\nhome workers by suing to overturn OSHA's \r\nergonomics rule, according to SEIU.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is jeopardizing the safety of nursing home workers and residents by going to court to overturn OSHA''s new ergonomics rule, according to a nursing home union.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of many business organization that has filed suit against OSHA since the agency released its final version of the ergonomics standard Nov. 13.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the largest union of nursing home workers in the United States.

"This knee-jerk, just-say-no reaction from big corporations is outrageous," said SEIU President Andrew Stern. "This common sense rule is badly needed to prevent pain and suffering for millions of nursing home workers and patients."

According to SEIU, working in a nursing home is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, more dangerous than working in a coal mine, steel mill or paper mill.

Every year, out of 100 nursing home workers, 18 will be injured; six will need to spend time away from work to recover; and four will be hurt so badly they need a week or more to recover, according to SEIU statistics.

Back injuries, widely considered to be among the most serious and costly of workplace injuries, are the most common type of injury suffered by nursing home workers.

Back injuries make up 27 percent of injuries in all private industries, but account for 42 percent of all injuries in nursing homes.

According to studies, the use of ergonomic measures such as mechanical lifting devices results in fewer work injuries, as well as improved resident comfort and safety, said SEIU.

"Delaying the new standard would waste millions of taxpayers. The industry, which is subsidized by the Health Care Financing Administration, pays more than $1 billion each year in workers'' compensation premiums," said Stern. "Every dollar spent on ergonomic programs can save up to $10 in premiums."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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