Employees at a Cincinnati nursing care facility will benefit from improvements the company is making to its policies and procedures for transferring residents at Twin Towers, a provider of skilled nursing care services.

Nursing facilities have among the highest rates of serious work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, including those of the neck, upper extremities and lower back, which account for a significant portion of these injuries.

Preventing injuries, preserving dignity

"Musculoskeletal disorders are preventable. An effective, safe resident handling program will reduce muscle fatigue, increase productivity and reduce the number and severity of work-related injuries," said Ken Montgomery, OSHA area director in Cincinnati. "Twin Towers recognizes the need to make changes to its resident handling procedures to prevent injury to workers while continuing to preserve the dignity of patients with limited mobility."

Under terms of a settlement agreement with OSHA, Twin Towers will retain a specialized safety consultant with ergonomics expertise to recommend improvements to its resident handling program that will include minimal lifting by caregivers; using safe handling technologies, such as mechanical lifts; repositioning aids; and training for workers.

The company will report to OSHA on improvements to its program within six months and pay a penalty of $18,200 to resolve OSHA citations issued in June 2015. The agency issued citations after conducting an inspection based on a review of injury and illness logs for employees, which indicated a high rate of musculoskeletal injuries for caregivers. Twin Towers cooperated fully with OSHA's investigation.

Almost half of all injuries

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. Bureau of Labor Statistics' data for 2013 shows overexertion accounted for almost half of all reported injuries in the health care industry. Nurses and nursing assistants each accounted for a substantial share of this total. Among all occupations, orderlies, nursing assistants and personal care aides had some of the highest musculoskeletal disorder rates in 2013.

Twin Towers is a registered nonprofit corporation. It operates under the parent corporation, Life Enriching Communities, and employs about 300 workers. Life Enriching Communities also operates Twin Lakes, a senior living community in Montgomery. The settlement agreement between OSHA and Twin Towers also calls for a review of Twin Lakes' policies and procedures for resident handling.