Nurses are in the top of all occupations in the United States for workplace injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “In 2010, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). There were 27,020 cases, which equates to an incidence rate of 249 per 10,000 workers, more than seven times the average for all industries (34 per 10,000 workers.) The rate for construction laborers was 85.” Health care workers are more likely to face workplace injuries than those in construction and manufacturing. In health care, lifting 100 pounds is considered light.
The injuries that can be sustained from lifting, transferring and repositioning patients have the potential to keep employees home from work and in severe cases can prematurely end health care careers and contribute to long-term pain and suffering for the injured worker. So it is important for hospitals to provide a safe working environment to protect employees and patients alike.
Because the rate of workplace injuries in health care is so high compared to other occupations, the Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act (AB 1136) was incorporated into the California Labor Code. This legislation provides guidelines for implementing “safe patient handling” programs.