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OSHA Launches New Tool To Protect Hospital Workers

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced the addition of a new online resource, Worker Safety in Hospitals, to help to prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety, implement health and safety management systems and to create better safe-handling programs.
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“These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Georgia know identifying risks before they strike and implementing comprehensive safety interventions are some of the most effective ways to help to protect hospital workers while helping to enhance service to the patients. In American hospitals, officials recorded more than 253,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2011. That is a rate of nearly 7 work-related illnesses and injuries for every 100 full-time workers — almost twice the rate for private industry.

Hospitals come with some serious hazards to worker safety, including slips, trips and falls, lifting and moving patients, and needlesticks. Oftentimes workers are so dedicated to protecting patients that they will put themselves at risk for a serious injury.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the likelihood of injury or illness resulting in days away from work is higher in hospitals than in construction and manufacturing–two industries that are traditionally thought to be relatively hazardous.

One of the most effective ways to reduce workplace hazards and injuries is through a comprehensive, proactive safety and health management system.

When workers are injured on the job, hospitals pay the price in many ways. Not only are they responsible for lost wages through workers’ compensation, but they can also feel the wrath of medical costs, backfiling, temporary staffing and overtime for those to cover for injured workers. Hospitals can also suffer from decreased productivity and morale as employees become physically and emotionally fatigued.

In 2012 alone, hospitals across the nation recorded roughly 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses. About 60,000 of these injuries and illnesses caused employees to miss work. Nationwide, workers’ compensation losses result in a total annual expense of $2 billion for hospitals.

One of the most important in helping to better workplace conditions for these workers is to ease the interaction between them and patients. Patient education can reinforce that the lift is for the patient’s safety as well as the caregiver’s. Patient handling equipment can help prevent patient falls, bruises, and skin tears. Studies have shown that patients feel more comfortable and secure when a mechanical transfer device is used.

Establishing and maintaining a successful safe patient handling program will likely require a culture change throughout the hospital. Modeling safe patient handling behaviors (e.g., establishing safe patient handling champions), management support, and commitment to the safety of both patients and workers are essential. Take a look around. Is safety a top concern at your hospital? Are there procedures in place to help protect you?

Contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney. For a free consultation call 1-404-303-7770 today.

More Blog Entries:

Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Claims: Injuries Must Arise From Employment, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, January 14, 2014

Workers’ Compensation for Georgia’s Independent Contractors, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, December 23, 2013