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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will holding a press conference today (Jan. 15) to highlight new educational Web resources and materials to help hospitals prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling programs, and implement safety and health management systems.
Hospitals are among the most hazardous workplaces in the United States. In 2012, U.S. hospitals recorded 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses. Almost 60,000 of these caused employees to miss work, a rate higher than construction and factory workers, according to OSHA.
In 2010, almost as many injuries requiring days away from work occurred in the healthcare and social assistance sector (176,380) as in construction and manufacturing combined (74,950 and 127,140), yet the healthcare and social assistance sector had less than one-twentieth of the number of inspections as those other major industries, according to a recent report by the advocacy group Public Citizen: “Healthcare Workers Unprotected.”
While construction and manufacturing have a higher number of fatalities, health care has a higher rate of injuries overall. OSHA has too few resources, too much interference from Congress, and an inability to create new regulatory standards to address modern work hazards, Public Citizen found.
OSHA chief David Michaels, MD, PhD, will be joined at the press conference by John Howard, MD, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Lucian Leape, MD, chairman of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation: and Erin DuPree, MD, chief medical officer and vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.
For more on this important story see the next issue of Hospital Employee Health.