Government regulators are beginning a three-year program focusing on protecting workers at nursing and residential care facilities from serious safety and health hazards.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated a new National Emphasis Program for Nursing and Residential Care Facilities with a goal of reducing occupational illness and injury in nursing and residential care facilities. The program will focus on outreach and inspections of specific hazards common in medical industries, including:
- ergonomic stressors in patient lifting;
- workplace violence;
- hazards causing slip, trip and fall events;
- exposure to blood and blood borne pathogens;
- exposure to Tuberculosis (TB);
- and other hazards inspectors may find such as exposure to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), other multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) or chemicals.
Despite feasible controls to address these hazards, workers in nursing and residential care facilities have one of the highest rates of lost workdays due to injuries and illnesses of all major American industries, a rate that is also 2.3 times greater than that of all private industry.
A directive from David Michaels, PhD, MPH, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, sets forth policy and procedures for targeting facilities with a days-away-from-work rate of 10 or higher per 100 full-time workers and conducting inspections specifically focused on the hazards associated with nursing and residential care facilities.
“These are people who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are not well. It is not acceptable that they continue to get hurt at such high rates,” said Michaels in a release. “Our new emphasis program for inspecting these facilities will strengthen protections for society's caretakers.”
OSHA conducted an earlier NEP for nursing and residential care facilities from 2002-2003 aimed at the same safety and health hazards. However, this new program also addresses workplace violence.
OSHA currently has other active National & Special Emphasis Programs running in areas of:
- Combustible dust
- Federal agencies
- Flavoring chemicals / Diacetyl
- Hazardous machinery
- Hexavlent chromium
- Primary metals industries
- Process safety management
- Trenching & excavation