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What OSHA changes mean for nurses

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Nurses may finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for injuries in the workplace. New regulations released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration aim to reduce the number of work-related injuries.

As stated in a press release from OSHA, hospitals across the U.S. recorded nearly 58,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2013, resulting in 6.4 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees.

On OSHA’s changes
The press release also stated that overall the health care industry’s number of work-related injuries is almost twice as high as the private industry. In an effort to lessen these numbers, OSHA has revised its health inspection protocol.

In the future, investigators’ are to focus on musculoskeletal disorders, bloodborne pathogens, workplace violence, tuberculosis and slips, trips and falls.

“Workers who take care of us when we are sick or hurt should not be at such high risk for injuries – that simply is not right,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, in the press release. Workers in hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have work injury and illness rates that are among the highest in the country, and virtually all of these injuries and illnesses are preventable” said Michaels. “OSHA has provided employers with education, training and resource materials, and it’s time for hospitals and the health care industry to make the changes necessary to protect their workers.”

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Safety tips for nurses
Nearly half of all of the injuries stem from overexertion and related tasks. While Dr. Michaels is confident that these solutions are feasible, nurses should also do their best to make their own health a priority. Here are a few suggestions that can be helpful in avoiding burnout and injury.

• Use lift machines: Jumi Harris, MHA, MT and manager of ancillary services at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center explained on Nursingjobs.com that nurses should use lifting devices to move patients from bed to bed instead of trying to pick up a patient.
• Wear supportive shoes: Nurses may also reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls by wearing slip-resistant shoes on the job.
• Switch positions: It’s common for nurses to repeat the same motions with the same arm. However, alternating between the right and left hand can minimize pain and reduce the chance of injuries over time.

More information about the OSHA changes can be found on the organization’s website.

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