Northeast Healthcare Facilities Provide Care to all ~ How Much does OSHA Care about them?

In April I wrote about the letters that OSHA sent out beginning March 18, 2013 regarding D.A.R.T. rates.  There were 9.400 of these letters sent to workplaces whose D.A.R.T. rates were above the national average for their industry.  The D.A.R.T. rate stands for “Days Away/Restricted or Transfer” and is based on a mathematical calculation that describes the number of recordable injuries and illnesses per 100 full time employees that resulted in days away from work.  Recordable incidents are incidents that resulted from an exposure or event in the workplace that required some type of medical treatment or first aid.The majority of those letters went out to health care facilities. If you’re a health care facility you may not have had a visit from one of OSHA’s agents in spite of receiving a letter.  And even if you did receive a visit from an OSHA agent there may not have been much they could do to correct the increasing workplace incidents and injuries because of the lack of specific regulations applicable to health care.  The fact is OSHA conducts too few inspections at health care facilities despite them having a higher incidence of injuries than any other occupational sector.  You might ask “WHY?” According to a report put out by Public Citizen there are no standards specific to many areas of health care.  For instance, musculoskeletal disorders are the leading source of health care worker injuries and there is no specific standard for workers to use as effective and protective measures to ensure proper patient handling.  There is no specific ergonomics standard.  OSHA cites a lack of resources to support rulemaking on safe patient handling.  And then there is workplace violence.  That’s right; there is no specific standard for workplace violence in an industry laced with care givers who risk their lives working with patients under severe medication which many times results in violence, bodily harm and/or threats.Although there are no specific OSHA standards to address these issues, there is the “general duty clause” put out by OSHA that states: “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”   The general duty clause is a bit vague when it comes to addressing the specific needs of the health care industry.One can see how the health care industry is plagued by a lack of specific standards to protect its workers and that doesn’t leave any of us confident in our own safety when we are most vulnerable.There is a silver lining!  Health care facilities can be proactive.  They can reach out to companies whose sole purpose is to provide workplace safety training.  Third party safety companies allow health care facilities to focus on healing and helping while these companies, such as United Alliance Services, take on safety compliance.  Many health care facilities utilize their human resource departments to provide safety compliance.  Few have dedicated safety departments.  Those that do have safety departments find themselves preoccupied with security over safety training.  We encourage you to voice your concern as an employee and as a patient when it comes to safety in health care facilities. Contact the safety professionals at United Alliance Services, servicing the northeast, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, Vermont, New Hampshire, for more information on workplace safety compliance.  We offer many options to fit any safety budget.  With over 150 safety courses and a staff of accredited safety professionals, your safety rests with us.  Our mission is: “Providing professional solutions for workplace safety”.  Our goal is your safety.