Health care/social assistance Legislation Musculoskeletal disorders

Patient-handling legislation aimed at preventing MSDs among health care workers

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Photo: Ron Chapple Stock/Ron Chapple Studios/Thinkstock

Silver Spring, MD – A group of lawmakers has reintroduced legislation intended to protect nurses and health care workers against musculoskeletal disorders caused by manually lifting patients.

The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act (H.R. 4266) calls for OSHA to promulgate a health and safety standard requiring the use of mechanical lifts and safe practices in the industry. Some states and health care facilities already have adopted safe patient-handling programs, lawmakers said, and the proposed legislation would standardize the policy across the nation.

The American Nurses Association praised the measure, which also would establish education and training programs for workers. The legislation was reintroduced by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

In a press release, ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano said nurses and other health care workers sustain debilitating and often career-ending musculoskeletal disorders because of manually lifting or moving patients.

“This bill signals that workers are not expendable and injuries are not tolerable as just ‘part of the job,’” Cipriano said in the release. “It is a much needed step in the right direction to implementing safer programs that will help to save and extend the careers of thousands of registered nurses.”