OSHA Puts Out Nursing Home Worker Safety Guidelines

March 13, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The nursing home industry is the first in a series of professions to get government guidelines on how employers can cut the number and severity of workplace injuries.

John Henshaw, administrator of the   Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced the industry-specific guidelines for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. “Nursing home workers are suffering too many ergonomics-related injuries,” Henshaw said in a statement. “But, the experiences of many nursing homes provide a basis for taking action now to better protect these workers. These guidelines reflect best practices for tackling ergonomic problems in this industry.”

The guidelines, which deal with topics such as cutting back or eliminating manual lifting and repositioning of residents, are divided into five sections:

  • developing a process for protecting workers
  • identifying problems and implementing solutions for resident lifting and repositioning
  • identifying problems and implementing solutions for activities other than resident lifting and repositioning
  • training
  • additional information.

In Henshaw’s announcement, the agency encouraged employers to implement a basic ergonomic process that provides management support while involving workers, identifying problems and implementing solutions, addressing reports of injuries, providing training and evaluating ergonomics efforts. He said specifics might differ from site to site, but that all nursing homes could start by minimizing or eliminating manual lifting of residents.

OSHA announced the agency’s strategy to reduce ergonomic injuries in April 2002 (See  DoL to Unveil Ergonomic Guidelines  ).The four-pronged approach includes guidelines, enforcement, research and outreach and assistance. In addition to nursing homes, the agency is preparing industry-specific guidelines for the retail grocery store and poultry processing industries.

A fact sheet about the guidelines is at www.osha.gov  while the actual  guidelines are available at  http://www.osha.gov/ergonomics/guidelines/nursinghome/index.html .