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OSHA Targets Nursing Homes and Care Facilities for Injury Reduction Program

Nursing homes and residential care facilities are dangerous places to work. In fact, federal statistics for 2010 show that the care facility industry had one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses in the country.

Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorneys and other worker safety advocates are naturally concerned about this.

At the federal level, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized the need for action to improve safety and prevent workplace injuries. OSHA proposes to do this through a program known by the acronym NEP, for National Emphasis Program.

Currently, the incidence rate in nursing homes and residential care facilities for injuries and illnesses requiring time off work is more than double the average for all of private industry.

Much of this is due to overexertion. In care facilities, it is often necessary to lift patients - and that ergonomic stress can really put a strain on worker's back. Slips and falls are also common.

In addition, care workers often face serious, specifically health-related hazards. These include exposure to blood, human waste, and other materials that may carry infectious diseases.

So what will the OSHA NEP initiative do? The details have yet to be determined. But OSHA will use statistical analysis to target areas with higher numbers of injuries.

The goal is to reduce the frequency of injuries. Federal regulators are seeking partner agencies at the state level to participate in the effort.

The NEP emphasis program will include increasing the number of inspections in targeted areas. It will also include outreach efforts. It will run for three years.

Source: "New OSHA NEP Aims to Reduce Injuries among Workers in Nursing, Residential Care Facilities," Laura Walter, EHS Today, 4-16-12

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