By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

OSHA recently released its Safe Patient Handling — Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in Nursing Homes Fact Sheet. OSHA Fact Sheet (OSHA FS-3707, 2014).

OSHA, on its Healthcare webpage, indicates that more workers were injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector in 2010 than any other. Reviewing Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the healthcare and social assistance industry reported more injury and illness cases than any other private industry sector — 653,900 cases. See Table 2. That is 152,000 more cases than the next industry sector: manufacturing. OSHA noted specifically that nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of all occupations in 2010. The incidence rate of work related musculoskeletal disorders for these occupations was 249 per 10,000 workers — compared to the average rate for all workers of 34. BLS News Release, Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2010.

The new MSDs Fact Sheet notes that “healthcare workers experience some of the highest rates of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses of any industry sector.” OSHA reports that in 2012, “injuries and illnesses reported for nursing and residential care workers were significantly higher than those in construction, and 2-3 times higher than in retail or manufacturing.” At issue for employers and healthcare professions was the fact that almost half of the injuries and illnesses reported for nurses and nursing support staff were musculoskeletal disorders. Rates of MSDs for nursing assistants (225.8) were almost “four times as high as the average for all workers” (37.8).

With this Fact Sheet putting the issue squarely out front for employers, you may well expect to have OSHA inspectors, if or when they visit, asking for your MSDs policies, training, and tracking programs and records.

If you have any questions about this hot topic or the new Fact Sheet, please contact the authors, a member of Seyfarth’s Workplace Policies and Handbooks Team, or your Seyfarth attorney.