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New OSHA Program Emphasizes Healthcare Safety

April 12, 2012
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Government regulators are beginning a three-year program focusing on protecting workers in the nursing and residential care fields from serious safety and health hazards, according to an OSHA news brief.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, workers in these industries have one of the highest rates of lost workdays due to injury and illness of all major American industries — 2.3 times higher than all private industry.

The new National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities aims to reduce occupational illnesses and injury, focusing on outreach and inspections of specific hazards that are common in medial industries, including:

  • Ergonomic stressors in patient lifting
  • Workplace violence
  • Hazards that cause slip, trip and fall events
  • Exposure to blood and blood-borne pathogens
  • Exposure to tuberculosis

Other hazards include exposure to certain Staphylococcus infections, multi-drug resistant organisms or chemicals.

“These are people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are not well,” says Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “It is not acceptable that they continue to get hurt at such high rates. Our new emphasis program for inspecting these facilities will strengthen protections for society’s caretakers.”

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