The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration focused its attention on the conditions found in inpatient health care facilities when it recently issued a compliance memo to OSHA regional offices and state plans. Titled ‘Inspection Guidance for Inpatient Healthcare Settings,” the June 2015 memo requires compliance staff in Maryland and around the country to make targeted inspections of this industry’s employers that have high incident rates of work-related illnesses and injuries.
This guidance memo covers any facility that provides residential or inpatient health care or nursing care, including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, assisted living facilities and psychiatric hospitals. The OSHA guidance instructs regional offices to inspect facilities in their areas that have a high number of workplace injuries.
In particular, inspections are expected to address major hazards associated with health care work environments, including musculoskeletal disorders, workplace violence, bloodborne pathogens, tuberculosis and falls. OSHA inspectors are instructed to issue citations to and impose fines on employers who fail to provide safe work environments for their employees.
Despite all precautions that are taken by both employers and employees, even the safest of workplaces cannot prevent all injuries, and workplace accidents will continue to happen. Health care workers who are injured on the job by lifting a heavy patient, or those who contract an occupational disease, will often face high medical expenses and in some cases be unable to return to work for prolonged periods. An injured health care worker may be eligible to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in an attempt to address these needs. Many find the advice of an attorney to be helpful throughout the process.