News & Events

New program seeks to reduce hospital injuries

OSHA has initiated a pilot ergonomics initiative which combines the benefi ts of using establishment-specific illness/ injury data for the OSHA Data Initiative with the flexibility and knowledge of local industry hazards and illness/injury experience. Specifically, the New England regional offi ce of OSHA implemented a local emphasis program for hospitals, including general medical, surgical and psychiatric hospitals.

The initial local program began March 13 and included an audience of more than 100 people. Participants learned that OSHA will use a four-pronged approach in its efforts, including the use of industry and taskspecifi c guidelines (for injury prevention), enforcement, outreach and assistance (employers may ask for assistance to implement change), and advancing research. The main focus of OSHA’s local program will be on reducing injuries to patients/professionals during equipment handling, as well as injuries related to sharps and hollowbore needles.

Initiatives and designs that are already being utilized in other industries to prevent injuries to workers will soon be adapted for use in health care settings under the local program. For example: You can’t lift 180 pounds at UPS anymore and, soon, you won’t be expected to lift 180 pounds in the healthcare industry either.

Similarly, gone are the days when the needle-stick injury would be attributed to “carelessness, inattention or poor technique” or the when back injury would be blamed on “poor body mechanics or not waiting for help.” The practice of “behavioral safety,” which often leads to blaming the victim for the injuries, is being replaced. Now, equipment specifi cally designed to reduce physical stress on the worker is being introduced into hospitals and nursing homes across the country.