NSC Business and Industry Division news Federal agencies Injury prevention Health care/social assistance Health Care Workers

OSHA calls on health care employers to do ‘all they can’ to protect workers

Healthcare worker-patient
Photo: AlenaPaulus/iStockphoto

Washington — On the eve of National Caregivers Day, OSHA issued a press release urging health care employers to take immediate actions to help safeguard their workers after the industry experienced sharp increases in injuries and illness in 2020.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and social assistance employees in the private sector experienced more than 800,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2020. That’s in contrast to 575,200 the previous year. The total incidence rate was 5.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent employees in 2020 – up from 3.8 the year before.

Registered nurses had almost 79,000 cases involving days away from work in 2020 – nearly 59,000 more than in 2019 and representing a 290.8% increase. Meanwhile, nursing assistants had more than 96,000 cases, almost 69,000 more than in 2019 – a 249.7% increase.

As the agency works toward a permanent standard on COVID-19 focused on health care workers, OSHA, in the Feb. 17 press release, reminds employers they must comply with the agency’s General Duty Clause, its standard on personal protective equipment and “other applicable OSHA standards to protect employees against the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace.”


OSHA calls for the creation and use of “proactive” safety and health programs that address hazards and include training and preventive measures. The agency also notes that employers can contact their local OSHA On-Site Consultation program to schedule a free safety and health evaluation by calling (800) 321-OSHA (6742) or going to osha.gov/consultation.

“We recognize our caregivers for the extraordinary sacrifices they continue to make working on the front line throughout the pandemic to keep us healthy and safe – and we owe it to them to ensure their employers are doing all they can to protect them,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said in the release. “The dangers health care workers face continue to be of the highest concern, and measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are still needed to protect them.”

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)