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Health care industry needs more OSHA standards, inspections: report

Washington – OSHA needs to issue more regulations that protect health care workers and conduct more inspections of facilities in that industry, according to a report released July 17 by advocacy group Public Citizen.

The report cites OSHA’s own data, noting that more workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by employers in the health care industry in 2010 than any other sector, and nearly half of all workplace violence incidents occur in health care. Additionally, the report states that OSHA has no standard that addresses musculoskeletal disorders – the leading cause of health care worker injuries.

The report’s recommendations include a suggestion that OSHA issue standards addressing safe patient handling and workplace violence, and amend its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

Recognizing that OSHA faces limitations in resources and rulemaking hurdles, report co-author Keith Wrightson said during a press conference that Congress needs to provide more funding for the agency. Congress also needs to “stop blocking” OSHA’s efforts, Wrightson said, referring to Congress’s repeal of an ergonomics standard and its prevention of the agency’s attempts to gather MSD injury data.