Hospitals have serious hazards, from lifting and moving patients, to slips, trips, and falls. Caregivers feel an ethical duty to "do no harm" to patients, and some will even put their own safety and health at risk to help a patient.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the likelihood of injury or illness resulting in days away from work is higher in hospitals than in construction and manufacturing—two industries that are traditionally thought to be relatively hazardous.
Injuries and illnesses come at a high cost. When an employee gets hurt on the job, hospitals pay the price in many ways, including:
Workplace safety also affects patient care. Manual lifting can injure caregivers and also put patients at risk of falls, fractures, bruises, and skin tears. Caregiver fatigue, injury, and stress are tied to a higher risk of medication errors and patient infections.
The category of “nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants” was one of the top five occupations for total days-away-from-work injuries in 2011, and nursing assistants and registered nurses were two of the top six occupations suffering MSDs.
Total counts are influenced by the number of workers in a particular occupation, but it is also worth noting how the injuries are distributed by cause (i.e., “event or exposure”). Almost all of these occupations are dominated by “overexertion and bodily reaction” injuries, which in turn can lead to MSDs. (See figure on right)
The first step in addressing the issue of patient handling is to assess the size and nature of the problem. Comprehensive reporting of worker injuries helps ensure that you have the data available to develop your hospital's safe patient handling program.
Below are some steps you can take to assess your safe patient handling concerns and needs.
OSHA already requires many workplaces (including any hospital with more than 10 employees) to use the OSHA 300 Log to report serious job related injuries and to complete the Form 301 for every recordable injury. The OSHA 300 Log and Form 301, available on OSHA's website, help to identify work areas or tasks where injuries frequently occur.
Please see OSHAcademy course 708 OSHA Recordkeeping Basics for more information.
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