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OSHA focusing on workplace safety for nurses

Nurses and nursing assistants in Oklahoma and across the country may soon see greater attention being paid to the risks they face on the job. This is evident in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considering financial penalties for hospitals that fail to have proper equipment, training and support for nurses. The injuries suffered are frequently stemming from having to lift patients.

The number of injuries that nurses and their assistants suffer when lifting patients is believed to be growing due to the rising rate of patient obesity. Hospital staff members are expected to lift the patients with 'proper body mechanics." For OSHA, that is not enough. An investigation into the injuries showed that a large number of the victims required surgery. Other nurses simply chose to find other forms of employment rather than continue in nursing. In spite of this knowledge, hospitals have yet to find ways to avoid these injuries.

Given the lack of movement on the part of hospitals, OSHA will implement fines ranging from $7,000 to $70,000 if violations are found. Other issues that will be examined are potential attacks from patients, tuberculosis and slip and fall accidents. Although the federal agency is taking a more proactive role, it might only be possible to conduct inspections on a fraction of the country's hospitals due to limited resources. The goal is to achieve improvements in worker safety through better procedures, and the action by OSHA may be a small but important step.

Regardless of a person's occupation, an on-the-job injury can lead to lost wages and medical expenses. In some instances, the person might not be able to work at all. Those who suffer a workplace injury may wish to speak to an attorney to determine whether they are eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits that can help defray some of those costs.

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