OSHA to Improve Workers’ Safety and Health at Asheville Nursing Homes, Nationwide

In a previous post on our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Blog we reported that social service and healthcare workers were injured more than construction or manufacturing workers last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010 Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report.
Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys are trying to understand why the incidence rate increased by 6 percent in the healthcare industry last year when it seems as though jobs in the industry are the first to be cut by state officials. Perhaps it is because employees are being required to work longer hours, perform more job duties, and take on more taxing responsibilities.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration intends to respond by launching a new National Emphasis Program. The initiative will provide more inspections of nursing home and residential care facilities with regard to the many hazards workers face in these types of work environments. Handling or lifting residents, workplace violence, exposure to infectious diseases or blood-borne pathogens, and trips and falls are common causes of injuries for nurses or healthcare workers in long-term or residential care facilities.

In a recent statement, Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Dr. David Michaels, expressed concern for the increase in reported healthcare worker injuries and illnesses

“It is unacceptable that the workers who have dedicated their lives to caring for our loved ones when they are sick are the very same workers who face the highest risk of work-related injury and illness,” Michaels said.

With more than 12 million workers employed in health care, it is the second fastest growing sector in the U.S. Last year there were 2.5 times more healthcare work injury incidences than all private and public sector workers — 283 cases per 10,000 full-time employees compared to 118, respectively. The rate of incidence for nursing aides, attendants and orderlies increased by 7 percent last year, or 489 cases per 10,000 employees. Another reason healthcare work injuries in Asheville and statewide occur may be because females account for 80 percent of the work force. Musculoskeletal disorder cases rose 10 percent nationwide for attendants, aides and orderlies due to the tremendous strain caused by lifting and moving patients around. With so many females performing these types of tasks, the increased incidence rate seems understandable.

Nursing Assistant Education offers the following back-injury preventable tips to healthcare workers:

-Don’t be afraid to ask a co-worker for help if you need help lifting a patient.

-Communicate with the patient what you will be doing so that he or she can assist with movement. Even the slightest assistance with movement can help take strain off the lower back.

-Keep your body close to the patients rather than bending over to reach for them before you lift.

-Use your legs rather than bend your upper body. Keep your back perpendicular to the floor.

-If a mechanical lifting device is available, use it.

-Place your feet at least shoulder width apart for support while using the long and strong muscles in your legs for strength.

-Move patients smoothly by making sure you have a firm hold or grip on them before you start your motion.

Lee Law Offices, P.A. offers experienced advice and free consultations to injured workers in North Carolina and South Carolina. If you have been injured, call 1-800-887-1965 to speak with an attorney about filing a disability or workers’ compensation claim today.

More Blog Entries:
Charlotte Lab Workers in Danger of Daily Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals or Toxins, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 18, 2011.

North Carolina Employees Coming into Contact with Formaldehyde Can Suffer Long Term Health Effects, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 30, 2011.

Wide Variety of Work Environments Deemed Dangerous; Employers Need to Protect Workers from Injury in North Carolina, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 9, 2011.

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