Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Safe Patient Handling Laws for Healthcare Workers

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Healthcare workers like nurses, EMTs and orderlies make a career out of helping people and making sure they get the medical treatment they need. Unfortunately, because they are often lifting patients, moving them to and from beds and lifting heavy equipment, they are much more prone to musculoskeletal disorders than employees in other professions. As a result, lawmakers have proposed new legislation that will address this issue, calling for safe handling laws that aim to reduce injuries in healthcare workers.

The new law, which is currently being proposed in Massachusetts, would require health care facilities to establish a committee that would be responsible for creating and implementing safe patient handling policies and programs. While laws like this have already been passed in other states, the extremely high incidence of musculoskeletal disorders among healthcare workers warrants a need for the laws to be more widespread. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, in 2014 the rate of musculoskeletal disorders in healthcare and social assistance sector was 121.3 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. No other private sector industry has reported numbers that high.

Injury Rates of Healthcare Workers

Industry:                                                      Incidence Rate

(per 100 full-time workers):

Nursing and Residential Facilities                      12.6

Hospitals (state government)                               8.7

Ambulance Services (private)                              7.9

Government Employers and Other                      3.4

A similar law was introduced in Congress last year, entitled the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act. Under this law, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be required to establish a standard that would protect healthcare workers by prohibiting them from lifting patients. This bill, and others like it, can help reduce the number of Workers’ Compensation claims by health care employees by reducing the risk of injury that is associated with heavy lifting. According to the American Nurses Association, the typical health care employee lifts approximately 3,600 pounds per shift. In addition, a representative from the Massachusetts Nurses Association reported that approximately 1,000 hospital workers experienced musculoskeletal injuries in 2010, the majority of whom missed a minimum of five days of work.

In a statement addressing the safe patient handling practices, a spokesman from the Massachusetts Nurses Association shared that these practices have significantly reduced the incidence of injuries, and have saved the healthcare system millions of dollars in medical costs, staffing and lost productivity.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Injured Healthcare Workers

If you or a loved one work in the healthcare industry and have been injured on the job, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton so that we may thoroughly examine the details of your case and determine the best legal course of action, ensuring that your rights remain a top priority. Call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.