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OSHA's safety resource for caregivers: not enough?

In a recent workers' compensation post on our blog, we discussed how workers in the health care industry are commonly injured because of their jobs. They are also more likely than many other workers in other industries to suffer from work-related illness.

A common type of workers' compensation case that comes out of the medical industry is someone who suffers from a musculoskeletal disorder. OSHA recognizes that health risk of the care-giving industry and has responded with a tool that some worker safety advocates challenge as insufficient.

To try to prevent the high rate of worker injuries and illness among nurses, doctors and other medical caregivers, OSHA created a website full of educational information and safety tips. A specific safety matter that the site addresses is the physical handling of patients. Back injuries and musculoskeletal disorders are caused by consistent, sometimes improper lifting and moving of patients.

Safety advocates who want to protect medical professionals and caregivers from injuries argue that OSHA should do more than create a website and spread the word of safe patient handling. They believe that OSHA should set actual, strict rules regarding how patients should be handled within medical facilities.

By setting specific rules, injuries among health care workers would be prevented, but so would patient injuries. Overall, workers would miss fewer days of work because of musculoskeletal issues and fewer patients would need care related to improper handling. Pain, time and money could be saved.

Even with safety protocols, workers can still get injured because of repetitive stress on-the-job. A worker struggling with a back problem or other chronic pain can discuss their health with a workers' compensation attorney. A lawyer can help fight for the support a worker deserves during a time of needed healing.

Source: EHS Today, "Caring for Caregivers: OSHA Launches Web Resource for Hospitals and Health Care Workers," Sandy Smith, Jan. 16, 2014

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