OSHA announced in late June, that it will be focusing on injury prevention procedures and equipment in healthcare facilities by conducting more inspections to gauge employee safety.
According to the OSHA memo, “Inpatient healthcare settings have some of the highest rates of injury and illness among industries for which nationwide injury and illness rates were calculated for Calendar Year 2013.”
The memo includes guidelines for inspections and mentions that musculoskeletal disorders and overexertion accounted for approximately 44 percent of the injuries reported.
OSHA’s guidelines include employee safe patient handling training, use of assistive devices and systems for hazard analysis and identification.
Although use of assistive lifting device would decrease injury rates among healthcare workers, many facilities are faced with a variety of challenges. Ways to address those challenges may include:
- Proper budgeting to ensure the facility can afford the number of assistive lifting devices needed to prevent lift injuries.
- Making the equipment easily accessible for all personnel.
- Properly training all employees on equipment use.
- Identifying safe patient handling best practices and training employees accordingly.
OSHA’s memo does not mention any requirements for pre-employment or pre-placement testing, yet having this type of program in place can significantly reduce injury costs.
Testing new hires on their physical ability to do the job is great way to prevent employee injuries. This includes:
- Identifying pre-existing medical conditions that could put a worker at risk for injury.
- Documenting baseline musculoskeletal measurements to use as comparison should the worker get injured later.
- Conducting “Fit for Duty” exams either after an injury occurs or as a part of an employee’s annual performance evaluation.
SFM is currently working to develop safe patient handling best practices for healthcare facilities to help employers avoid OSHA citations, but most importantly to help keep employees well and productive.