The U.S. Department of Labor's workplace safety division is increasing its enforcement efforts in hospitals and nursing homes.
It will focus efforts on workplace-related injuries or illnesses such as musculoskeletal disorders developed from physically handling patients, bloodborne illnesses, workplace violence, tuberculosis and slips and falls.
According to OSHA, U.S. hospitals recorded nearly 58,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2013, representing 6.4 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees, which is almost twice as high as the overall rate for private industry. "Workers who take care of us when we are sick or hurt should not be at such high risk for injuries – that simply is not right. Workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities have work injury and illness rates that are among the highest in the country, and virtually all of these injuries and illnesses are preventable," said Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "OSHA has provided employers with education, training, and resource materials, and it's time for hospitals and the health care industry to make the changes necessary to protect their workers," he added.
"The most recent statistics tell us that almost half of all reported injuries in the health care industry were attributed to overexertion and related tasks. Nurses and nursing assistants each accounted for a substantial share of this total. There are feasible solutions for preventing these hazards and now is the time for employers to implement them," he said.