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OSHA targeting unsafe workplaces for health care employees

Ironically, people whose job it is to help sick and injured people get better are at serious risk of getting hurt themselves. Nurses and other health care professionals routinely develop musculoskeletal injuries from having to lift and handle patients’ bodies. Not only that, but catching illnesses and suffering from workplace violence and slips and falls are also common events.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that U.S. hospital workers sustained nearly 58,000 injuries and illnesses in 2013. That is a large number on its own, but is especially startling when you realize that it represents twice the rate of injury of all private sector employees.

OSHA recently announced it is taking on this problem head-on. It said it has sent its workplace inspectors a memorandum instructing them to be extra vigilant when at health care facilities. However, OSHA did not provide further details about the enforcement campaign.

Working as a nurse or nurse assistant can be difficult, and working at a place that is short-staffed can only make things worse. The worker-protection agency said that its research reveals that around half of the 58,000 injuries from 2013 were caused by overwork.

Workers who care for the sick, aged or infirm perform an important task for our society. They should be able to work in conditions made as safe as reasonably possible. They also may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they do get hurt at work. A health care professional with a back injury or serious illness may wish to speak to an attorney for assistance.

Source: Reuters Legal, “OSHA to target hospitals, nursing homes over work-related injuries,” Brendan Pierson, June 26, 2015

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