The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently announced the launch of an outreach program to raise awareness among health care workers about the dangers of musculoskeletal disorders. These disorders include sprains, strains and soft tissue injuries as well as back and neck injuries.
OSHA is responsible for ensuring that U.S. workers have safe and healthy workplaces by setting and enforcing workplace safety standards. OSHA offers training and education as well as outreach programs.
The OSHA campaign will provide 2,500 employers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia with information about how to combat the causes of musculoskeletal disorders. For example, health care workers often must lift excessive weight during patient transfers and handling. The OSHA outreach program offers information about a zero-lift program that uses specialized equipment to minimize patient lifting.
“The best control for [musculoskeletal disorders] is an effective prevention program,” said MaryAnn Garrahan, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia. “Our goal is to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in promoting effective processes to prevent injuries.”
Health care patients or residents of health care facilities were the source of 40,030 occupational musculoskeletal injuries across the nation in 2010, OSHA says. Overexertion caused 99 percent of those injuries. Orderlies, attendants and nursing aids are at the highest risk for a musculoskeletal workplace injury, followed by registered nurses and home health aides.
If you work in the health care industry and are required to move, transfer or handle patients as part of your job, you may wish to read OSHA’s “Safe Patient Handling” information and ask your employer whether your workplace will be participating in the outreach program.
If you have suffered a musculoskeletal injury (or any other injury) in a health care workplace accident in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to benefits through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.