OSHA offers new resource for worker safety
A federal agency has launched a new online resource to help hospital leaders protect their employees from getting hurt when lifting patients, handling combative patients, during exposure to chemicals, and being exposed to other common hazards of working in healthcare.
Successful strategies to improve patient safety and worker safety "go hand in hand," said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), during a news conference announcing the new site, osha.gov/hospitals. The site contains fact books, self-assessments, and best practices to guide hospital managers.
The initiative does not include any new requirements for hospitals, but Michaels said that improving safety requires a transformation of the workplace culture in the industry. "We urge all hospital executives that are ready to protect workers, enhance patient safety, and save money to go to our website, take the self-assessment, compare your hospital with benchmarks from high-performing hospitals," Michaels said.
OSHA says of the 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses reported in U.S. hospitals in 2012, almost 60,000 resulted in employees missing work, costing hospitals $2 billion in nationwide workers’ compensation losses.
Representatives from the Lucian Leape Institute, the National Patient Safety Foundation and the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare participated in the announcement.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, issued a statement applauding the creation of the site. Their group released a report in 2013, called "Health Care Workers Unprotected," finding healthcare workers suffer more injuries than those in any other industry. (That report is available online at http://bit.ly/1kCzRUM.) Employers across all healthcare settings reported nearly 654,000 workplace injuries and illnesses in 2010, which is about 23% more than the next most injury-prone sector, manufacturing. (For more on how risk managers can address employee safety, see Healthcare Risk Management, February 2014, pp. 16-19.)