OSHA pleads with healthcare employers to help reduce worker injuries, illnesses

Amid a rise in healthcare worker injuries and illnesses, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging facilities and providers in the industry to employ effective safety and health programs.

OSHA made the plea in a news release Feb. 8, about a week ahead of National Caregivers Day on Feb. 18. 

U.S. healthcare workers saw a 249 percent increase in injury and illness rates in 2020 compared to the year before, and workers in the healthcare and social assistance industries combined suffered more injuries and illnesses than workers in other industries, the agency said, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. OSHA urged healthcare employers to take action to reduce such incidents. 

"Healthcare workers routinely face the risks associated with exposures to bloodborne pathogens, drug residue, X-ray machines, respiratory illness and ergonomic injuries related to lifting patients and repetitive tasks," said Ryan Hodge, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "Our nation's caregivers have made extraordinary sacrifices in recent years — putting themselves on the front line in a pandemic — and we owe it to them to ensure their employers are doing all they can to protect their employees."

OSHA recommended that healthcare employers establish a proactive safety and health program and endorse training and preventive measures focused on worker safety.

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