The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a statement on June 25 that it was going to expand enforcement of worker safety rules for health care workers. It will be focusing on five specific hazards unique to hospital, residential care and nursing home workers. These hazards include slips and falls, safe patient handling as well as exposure to bloodborne pathogens. It is the second time in two months that OSHA has announced plans to increase enforcement regarding these issues.
OSHA says that it will inspect for compliance in these areas even if an inspection was being conducted for unrelated reasons. As part of the inspection process, OSHA will ask for employee medical records and interview employees to confirm the information contained in those records. It is expected that hospitals may receive an increased number of citations due to increased inspections and the thorough nature of these inspections.
For the most part, the inspections will determine whether a facility is following guidance provided by OSHA related to employee safety. However, facilities will also have to demonstrate that they have a program in place to help employees lift heavy objects. Specifically, they will have to show that they have lifting mechanisms or offer assistance to employees when they need help lifting heavy objects or larger patients.
Those who have suffered a workplace injury may be eligible to apply for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits may include the provision of necessary medical care and treatment as well as a portion of the wages that were lost when the injured employee was recovering. An attorney who has experience in this area of the law might be of assistance when the worker is preparing the claim.