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OSHA opens workplace injury database geared to healthcare field

Hospital safety and injuries to hospital workers is a hot topic for OSHA administrators and others due to steadily rising numbers of workplace injuries to healthcare workers. The problem is important enough that OSHA has opened a website to help educate hospital administrators in Colorado and throughout the country on how to better prevent workplace accident in the hospital setting. Voluminous online information is available at the OSHA site.

The "Worker Safety in Hospitals" site is geared toward hospital risk managers to identify problem areas and improve workplace safety protocols for better safety management systems. The hospital workers most subjected to on-the-job-injury are nurses, nurse's assistants, orderlies and others whose job description may call for physically assisting patients. The lifting and moving of patients is the biggest cause of workplace injury and workers' compensation claims in hospitals and nursing homes.

Generally, the best known of the musculoskeletal injuries suffered by healthcare workers are the herniated and ruptured disks that make physical work painful and that often require intensive treatment, long disability periods, and surgery. Surprisingly, hospitals and nursing homes rank as the two top locations for lost workdays due to back injuries. These healthcare workers are routinely called upon to lift physically unsafe loads without adequate support or advanced moving technologies, according to nursing organizations.

There are mechanical lifts available in the marketplace but most hospitals are not using them, probably due to budgetary priorities. These institutions may reassess their priorities as more and more nurses leave the profession, either voluntarily to avoid danger or involuntarily as victims of disabling physical injury. Other hospital hazards to workers include slips and falls, workplace violence, exposures to chemicals and dangerous drugs, infectious disease exposure and accidental needle-sticks.

The OSHA website can help to enlighten appropriate hospital managers to the national scope of the problem and to open the channels of information to for mutual improvement in safety goals. The problem of workplace injury in hospitals and nursing homes exists in Colorado just as abundantly as in the other states. It thus behooves healthcare administrators here to plug into the massive data bases of information that are now being shared online.

Source: Business Insurance, OSHA launches website to promote hospital safety, Matt Dunning, Jan. 21, 2014

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