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New OSHA Program Will Target Safety of Health Care Workers in Nursing Homes

The high injury rates of health care workers in nursing homes have not gone unnoticed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In a Nov. 9 announcement, Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels said, “OSHA is responding by launching, in the next few months, a national emphasis program on nursing home and residential care facilities.”

In 2011, about 500 nursing homes were subject to OSHA inspections because they had above-average numbers of workers with on-the-job injuries.

In the Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work, 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report on how often employees missed at least one day of work because of a workplace injury on illness. For nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, 489 out of every 10,000 employees had medical issues that kept them home. Among health care workers, the most common injuries were muscle sprains, strains, and tears, totaling 56 percent. Bruises and contusions made up 9 percent. The most common causes of these injuries were overexertion from activities including lifting, falls, and contact with objects.