OSHA has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the hazards likely to cause musculoskeletal disorders among health care workers responsible for patient care. These disorders include sprains, strains, soft tissue and back injuries.
"The best control for MSDs is an effective prevention program," said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia. "Our goal is to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in promoting effective processes to prevent injuries."
Zero-lift program uses special tools
As part of the campaign, OSHA is providing 2,500 employers, unions and associations in the health care industry in Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia with information about methods used to control hazards, such as lifting excessive weight during patient transfers and handling. OSHA is also providing information about how employers can include a zero-lift program, which minimizes direct patient lifting by using specialized lifting equipment and transfer tools.
Who's at greatest risk
In 2010, there were 40,030 occupational MSD cases in private industry nationwide where the source of injury or illness was a health care patient or resident of a health care facility. For MSD cases involving patient handling, 99 percent were the result of overexertion, resulting in sprain, strain, or tear injuries. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants incurred occupational injuries or illnesses in 49 percent of the MSD cases involving health care patients. Registered nurses accounted for 17 percent, and home health aides for another six percent.
Detailed information on safe patient handling can be found at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthcarefacilities/safepatienthandling.html.
For more information about the campaign, or to ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).