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Eric Conn Quoted in Article, "OSHA: Health Worker Injuries 'Unacceptable and Intolerable'"

Hospital Employee Health, 1/15/2012

Eric Conn, Head of the OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker Green, in the Washington, DC, office, was quoted in an article, "OSHA: Health Worker Injuries 'Unacceptable and Intolerable.'"

Following is an excerpt:

Nurses' aides have more serious work-related musculoskeletal injuries than any other occupation, and registered nurses rank fifth in MSDs — despite years of efforts to promote safe patient handling.

Those and other dismal injury statistics spurred the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to announce new, targeted inspections of nursing homes, an action that could ultimately increase scrutiny of hospitals as well…

A new National Emphasis Program for nursing homes will focus on back injuries from resident or patient handling, exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other infectious diseases, workplace violence, and slips, trips and falls…

When the details of the NEP are unveiled, compliance officers will receive a special directive and training. "You're now going to have an army of compliance officers trained to identify all the same hazards that exist in [hospital] workplaces," says Conn. "You've got a heightened awareness. I think we can expect hospitals will see more citations just like ones that will come out of the NEP."

It is part of a more aggressive enforcement strategy, Conn says. "The agency used to be reactionary.

They're now proactive in identifying a specific hazard or industry they want to focus on, educating their compliance officers and then sending them out to find [violations]," he says.