OSHA enforces nurse protection at hospitals: 5 things to know

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is tightening its enforcement on hospitals in an effort to protect nursing employees, according to NPR.

The enforcement is part of a new OSHA program.

Here are five things to know about the agency's initiative.

1. The program is aimed at preventing an epidemic of back and arm injuries that nursing employees suffer from moving and lifting patients, according to NPR. 

2. With the new program, OSHA won't solely recommend safe practices, but potentially fine hospitals for not adopting them. A typical penalty would likely be $7,000 per hospital, but it could be as much as $70,000 if evidence suggests that hospital administrators purposely ignored the problem, according to NPR, which cites an OSHA official.

3. According to NPR, OSHA's inspectors will speak with nursing staff and managers, and review internal hospital documents, to answer questions such as: What kinds of machines and other devices are used by the hospital to move patients? Does the hospital have an adequate supply of the equipment? How well does the hospital train its staff to use it? Does management track and promptly treat injuries among nursing staff?

4. Additionally, inspectors with the agency will investigate how hospitals are protecting nursing staff from other hazards, including attacks by patients, slips and falls and tuberculosis, according to NPR.

5. "Sadly, there will be some hospitals where we find significant ergonomic hazards, and they are at risk for serious penalties," OSHA chief David Michaels told NPR. "We're hoping most hospitals will abate those hazards before we get there. But we'll go in, we'll issue penalties, and that will tell the industry to change things." 


More articles on workforce and labor management:

Nurses at 2 New York hospitals authorize strike: 3 things to know
Newton-Wellesley Hospital nurse strike averted: 4 things to know
Connecticut healthcare workers vote against unionizing: 5 things to know

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