Beverly Enterprises, the nation's largest nursing home chain, has agreed to comprehensive requirements for lifting devices and safety procedures to protect nursing home caregivers from ergonomics-related injuries, according to the Service Employees International Union, which brought safety complaints against the company.

Beverly must implement the new guidelines outlined in the settlement with OSHA within one year at five Pennsylvania nursing homes where complaints were originally filed with OSHA and phase in the remedies at 265 other homes around the country in states where OSHA has jurisdiction.

Under the agreement, Beverly must minimize manual lifting of patients, purchase mechanical and other lifting devices and train nursing personnel on their use, purchase friction-reducing devices (Maxislides) and gait/transfer belts to assist with repositioning residents and train nursing personnel on their use, and file semiannual reports with OSHA and SEIU for the five-year term of the agreement.

The settlement also includes a comprehensive guide to choosing lifting devices for the varying needs of nursing home residents.