OSHA and Worker Safety in Hospitals

OSHA and Worker Safety in Hospitals

Many of our emergency care instructors are based in the broader healthcare field, especially in hospital settings, and today’s blog post is for you and your fellow caregivers.

One of the most challenging environments to work in, hospitals are a common venue for worker injuries. According to OSHA:

"In 2011, U.S. hospitals recorded 253,700 work-related injuries and illnesses, a rate of 6.8 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees. This is almost twice the rate for private industry as a whole."

Why are hospitals so tough on their workers? OSHA explains:

"Hospitals have serious hazards—lifting and moving patients, needlesticks, slips, trips, and falls, and the potential for agitated or combative patients or visitors—along with a dynamic, unpredictable environment and a unique culture. Caregivers feel an ethical duty to "do no harm" to patients, and some will even put their own safety and health at risk to help a patient."

Let’s look today at some of those typical hospital-related injuries.

Lifting and moving

OSHA offers a PDF to download to educate hospital management and safety teams about the inherent risks of hospital work. According to the overview, lifting and moving patients is at the top of the risk list:

"Nearly half (48 percent) of injuries resulting in days away from work are caused by overexertion or bodily reaction, which includes motions such as lifting, bending, or reaching. These motions often relate to patient handling. The resulting injuries are often musculoskeletal in nature."

OSHA’s suggested approach to educating caregivers on proper patient handling equipment use and the benefits of always using safe handling practices is actually great advice for any organization seeking to implement good safety practices, and it all revolves around training:


The CDC estimates that about 385,000 needlestick or “sharps” injuries occur annually in hospital settings and that nurses are the most frequently injured. Laboratory staff, physicians, housekeepers, and other healthcare workers also injured.

In April 2001, Congress passed the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, directing OSHA to revise the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard:

For more information, see the Hospital eTool (HealthCare Wide Hazards Module) at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hospital/hazards/hazards.html.

Recommendations for safe needle handling practices include:

Slips, trips, and falls

A 2010 study published in Injury Prevention lists some interesting statistics about the common slip, trip, and fall (STF) injuries among hospital workers. Of 153 workers interviewed who had reported one of these sorts of injuries:

CDC and NIOSH put together a downloadable PDF to help hospitals better prevent STF injuries. Some of their recommendations include:

Additional resources

Summit Training Source offers some caregiver-specific training to help you put these good practices into play at your facility or for your healthcare industry customers.

Needlesticks: Avoiding Exposure

Train caregivers on best safety practices to avoid needlestick injuries and their associated consequences. Create a safe work environment for your employees by providing them with the tools to keep them safe and informed.

This program covers:

Patient Lifting and Transfer

Any time you are handling a patient; you are opening yourself up to a number of risks that could contribute to you hurting yourself, particularly your back.

Summit's healthcare industry training program, Patient Lifting and Transfer in video and DVD teaches workers to prevent these risks and reduces the immense stress on a body that may result in injuries.

This program covers:

We hope today’s blog inspires our healthcare readers to keep their own safety and well being in mind, just as they do their patient’s. Thank you for everything you do in our hospitals around the nation and around the world.

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