According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, out of all U.S. private industries, health care has the highest rate of workplace injury. OSHA noted that dangers like workplace violence, slip-and-fall accidents, lifting injuries and exposure to a number of hazardous diseases and pathogens contributed to a higher overall frequency of occupational harm or illnesses among professionals like nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that in 2012, the rates of workplace injury in care facilities and hospitals were each significantly higher than in other occupations.
OSHA’s crackdown comes on the heels of extensive media coverage of how nurses and other health care workers sustained injuries. A researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that nurses often had to exceed the suggested weight limits put in place in other industries during the course of helping to lift patients.
OSHA announced that it would begin a more intensive analysis of how to solve the occupational safety problems that currently plague health care. In addition to evaluating the appropriateness of current workplace hazard classification systems and aids, the agency is promoting the adoption of protocols concerning subjects like disease exposure and dangerous material handling. Regulators may also soon be empowered to investigate, audit and fine hospitals and other institutions for violations.
For nurses and other health care practitioners, new federal regulations might lead to major improvements in workplace safety. Still, no law is perfect, and new codes may lack provisions for helping injured professionals recover. Seeking workers’ compensation could be advisable for those who sustain harm during the course of their duties. Many workers find the assistance of an attorney helpful when preparing and submitting a claim for benefits.