News & Events

OSHA, MNA and the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety

Addressing what constitutes safe working conditions in health care settings

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
Jun 2006 Edition

By Evelyn Bain, M Ed, RN, COHN-S
Associate Director/Coordinator, Health & Safety

In the winter of 2003-2004 the MNA Health and Safety staff members learned, through Health Care Without Harm, that the New York State Nurses Association had signed on to an alliance with their local OSHA region. Very quickly the wheels began turning, and soon the Congress on Health and Safety began to investigate the process and how such an alliance could benefit MNA members.

  Nelson Barnes, assistant area director for safety, OSHA Springfield area office and Kathy Flannery, program supervisor, Mass. Division of Occupational Safety.

The alliance was subsequently signed into effect at the MNA convention in 2004. Within weeks of signing the document, representatives of the participating groups began meeting at OSHA Region 1 headquarters in the JFK Federal Building in Boston to prioritize activities for the alliance.

Since the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) had recently released an alert entitled “Preventing Occupational Exposure to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs Healthcare Settings,” it was determined that moving this information forward would be the first task for the group.

Rosemary O’Brien center, chairperson of the MNA Workplace Violence and Abuse Prevention Task Force attended the conference on March 29 with MNA vice president Donna Kelly Williams and MNA member Marilyn Crawford.

During the spring and summer of 2005, representatives of the participating groups met frequently in planning sessions and presented an educational class entitled “OSHA Compliance with Hazardous Drugs” to more that 110 nurses and other representatives from health care institutions from Massachusetts and beyond.
Without missing a beat, the group began preparing for the second topic to be addressed and developed a program called “Workplace Violence: Healthcare is Not Immune.” Close to 150 people attended the program in Randolph in March (see accompanying photos).

The third topic to be presented will look at preventing musculo-skeletal injuries that result from lifting and moving patients and heavy equipment in health care settings.

Efforts are underway with representatives from OSHA and the Division of Safety to extend the alliance through 2008.

MNA Health and Safety Congress and Task Force members at the March 29 conference, “Workplace Violence: Healthcare is Not Immune.” From left, Mary Bellistri, Liz O’Connor, Maryanne Dillon and Kathy McDonald.