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OSHA releases new resources for hospitals

January 22, 2014

The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched a new educational resource online. The organisation hopes that this portfolio of  extensive materials will help hospitals, and their workers, to prevent worker injuries.

It also aims to assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling programs, and implement safety and health management systems. The vast material includes fact books, self-assessments and best practice guides.

"These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. 

"At the heart of these materials are the lessons from high-performing hospitals that have implemented best practices to reduce workplace injuries while also improving patient safety,” added Dr Michaels.

OSHA's new resource is contained on the main website and offers healthcare workers guidance on several important issues associated with the specialised environment they work in. Safe patient handling is one key topic that is addressed and details some of the most common injuries that hospital professionals are likely to experience.

Hospitals across the US will be able to use these resources to better protect their workers, as well as raising awareness about the best practice and raising education levels. This will help the establishments not only keep their staff safer, but also improve patient safety and reduce costs.

It is well documented that hospital workers face many serious hazards which often encompasses lifting and moving patients but can also include workplace violence, slips and falls. However, they are also under threat from exposure to chemicals and hazardous drugs as well as infectious diseases and needlesticks. 

In 2012, US hospitals recorded 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses, almost 60,000 of which caused employees to miss work. Across the country, workers' compensation losses result in a total annual expense of $2 billion (£1.2 billion) for hospitals.

"By fostering research to identify injury risk factors and safety interventions, steps can be taken to save costs and enhance service to the patients,” said Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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