The workers in the United States most likely to experience back and arm injuries are nurses and nursing assistants. National Public Radio reports that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a crackdown on hospitals “to prevent an epidemic of back and arm injuries among nursing employees.” This is the first time ever OSHA will be emphasizing this common cause of nursing injuries.
Back and arm injuries can be difficult to treat effectively and complete cure may not be possible. These injuries are a common cause of workers’ compensation claims and a common reason for missed work time in the healthcare sector. An Atlanta neck and back injury lawyer should be consulted for help when nurses are hurt on-the-job.
Back and Arm Injuries Put Nurses and Nursing Aids at Risk of Atlanta Work Injuries
Back and arm injuries frequently affect nurses and nurses aids when nurses have to move patients. Proper body mechanics is stressed in nursing school and among nursing staff when lifting patients. Proper body mechanics involves bending the knees and keeping the back straight when lifting. However, even the best body mechanics are not able to prevent overexertion injuries when patients must be moved. Studies have demonstrated that the only true safe option is for special equipment to be used, such as ceiling lifts.
OSHA will be looking closely at what hospitals are doing to ensure the nurse’s obligation to lift patients does not end up causing disabling injuries. The agency has prepared an enforcement memo for 10 regional offices. The memo not only provides guidelines on safe practices hospitals should be following, but also provides more leverage for fining hospitals that do not accept the recommended safety policies.
Hospitals should have a sufficient supply of ceiling lifts and other mechanical lifts used to move patients. Hospital staff should be adequately trained to use the equipment available and should take steps to reduce ergonomic hazards endangering nurses. When injuries occur among nursing staff, the injuries should be promptly treated.
A typical penalty that will be imposed upon a hospital without adequate protection for nurses is estimated to run approximately $7,000. However, if there is evidence hospital administrators are deliberately ignoring the problem of ergonomic injury, fines could reach as high as $70,000.
OSHA inspectors will also be looking for other signs hospitals are not doing enough to protect nurses from some of the most common risk factors, including slip and falls, tuberculosis, and patient attacks.
While health specialists have reported that it is a good effort on the part of OSHA, there are also skeptics who suggest the new initiative is unlikely to change much. OSHA is understaffed and cannot do enough inspections to ensure hospitals are actually following guidelines. It would take 100 years for OSHA inspectors to inspect every workplace nationwide even one time. With more than 4,000 hospitals in the U.S., OSHA expects to inspect only dozens and not hundreds.
Still, hospitals should carefully consider OSHA’s recommendations for safety for nurses and should take steps to ensure they are following all best practices to prevent overexertion and other injuries.
The Atlanta work accident lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after an injury on-the-job. Call today at 404-991-5950 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.