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OSHA plans workplace safety inspections at nursing homes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration could soon target many nursing homes and other inpatient health care centers in Colorado for inspections. On June 25, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA issued a memorandum to OSHA Regional Administrators entitled 'Inspection Guidance for Inpatient Healthcare Settings." The memorandum is part of OSHA's heath care enforcement initiative that is aimed at lowering the number of workplace injuries and illnesses at nursing homes and inpatient health care facilities.

The memo issued to OSHA Regional Administrators advised compliance officers to inspect the inpatient health care facilities and nursing homes in their areas and evaluate the numbers of workplace injuries and illnesses that had occurred at those workplaces. Compliance officers were told to focus most of their attention on musculoskeletal disorders caused by handling patients, workplace violence, tuberculosis, bloodborne pathogens and slip-and-fall accidents.

Although OSHA's health care enforcement initiative is focused on five major categories of workplace safety, compliance officers were told to inspect additional hazards that might come to their attention during visits to health care facilities. Some of the hazards that were mentioned by OSHA include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and exposure to toxic chemicals used in disinfectants and sanitizers.

Recently, a lot of public attention has been given to the fact that health care workers perform a dangerous job. Nurses who regularly lift patients can sustain debilitating spinal injuries that can leave them unable to work. A health care worker who has suffered from an injury on the job can pursue reimbursement for some of their lost income by filing a workers' compensation claim.

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