Patient safety is vital and cannot be underestimated — and neither can workplace safety for nurses. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor statistics indicated specific healthcare settings, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, had a total case rate of 6.4 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration‘s deputy director issued a memo on June 25, 2016, to guide inspections in healthcare settings.
Five danger areas for nurses listed in the OSHA memo include musculoskeletal conditions related to patient and resident handling; workplace violence; blood-borne pathogens; tuberculosis; and slips, trips and falls. OSHA and the American Nurses Association hoped this information would trigger the creation of a national ergonomic standard for handling patients. The ANA has long taken the position that manual lifting should not occur, as it puts patients and nurses at risk.
The OSHA memo touches on additional workplace safety concerns for nurses. OSHA, which enforces the Occupational and Safety Health Act of 1970, ensures employers are providing a safe and healthy workplace for workers and comply with OSHA’s regulations. You can explore its website for regulations and services applicable to your safety, as well as data and statistics.
• Complying with your employer’s policies and procedures based on its obligations under OSHA;
• Using universal precautions;
• Using personal protective equipment, including masks, when indicated;
• Carefully administering injections per facility policy;
• Informing your nurse manager and others designated in the facility policy of workplace violence (e.g., bullying, intimidation, verbal abuse);
• Using proper body mechanics when lifting, pushing wheelchairs or otherwise working with patients;
• Voicing your concerns about purchasing lifting and other ergonomic equipment to your employer;
• Reducing risks for slips, trips or falls by removing obstacles, wiping up wet walking surfaces and wearing shoes that support your feet and your walking;
• Speaking with your nurse manager and CNO when policies and procedures governing safety are not being followed.
Nancy Brent’s posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.