Injuries to Health Care Workers on the Rise, OSHA Plans Special Emphasis Program

Nov. 9, 2011
Non-fatal injuries to health care workers requiring days away from work are on the rise, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Nov. 9, and OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels has vowed to launch a National Emphasis Program on Nursing Home and Residential Care Facilities.

“It is unacceptable that the workers who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are sick are the very same workers who face the highest risk of work-related injury and illness,” said Michaels. “These injuries can end up destroying a family’s emotional and financial security. While workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities take an enormous toll on this nation’s economy – the toll on injured workers and their families is intolerable.”

According to BLS, the incidence rate for health care support workers increased 6 percent to 283 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, almost 2.5 times the rate for all private and public sector workers at 118 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. The rate among nursing aides, orderlies and attendants rose 7 percent, to 489 per 10,000 workers. Additionally, the rate of musculoskeletal disorder cases with days away from work for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants increased 10 percent to a rate of 249 cases per 10,000 workers.

“The rates of injuries and illnesses among hospital and health care workers underscore OSHA’s concern about the safety and health of these workers,” said Michaels.

The national emphasis initiative for nursing homes and residential care facilities will call for increased inspections of these facilities that focus on back injuries from resident handling or lifting patients, exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other infectious diseases, workplace violence, and slips, trips and falls.

Michaels noted: “The workers that care for our loved ones deserve a safe workplace and OSHA is diligently working to make this happen.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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