On April 2, 2015, Thomas Galassi, Director of the Directorate of Enforcement for OSHA, sent a memorandum to all Regional Directors announcing that the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Nursing and Residential Care Facilities would be extended until replaced by updated guidance or removed by the agency. Mr. Galassi went on to state that, because
James S. Frank, a Member in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Labor and Employment practices, and Serra J. Schlanger, an Associate in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, co-authored an article for the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) entitled “Hospitals’ Heavy Lifting: Understanding OSHA’s New Hospital Worker and Patient Safety Guidance.”
The article, published in AHLA’s Spring 2014 Labor & Employment publication, summarizes OSHA’s new web-based “Worker Safety in Hospitals” guidance, explains how the guidance relates to OSHA’s existing regulatory framework, and details what OSHA considers necessary for an effective Safe Patient Handling Systems as well as an effective Safety and Health Management System.
The article goes on to forecast what OSHA’s Hospital Safety guidance will mean in the future for employers in the healthcare industry, including:
- More Whistleblower Complaints;
- Heavier enforcement by OSHA;
- Increased enforcement by the Joint Commission; and
- Greater interest in safety and health related legislation.
Finally, the article provides recommendations for what hospital and health system employers can do now to prepare for these developments, including:
- Reviewing and digesting the new OSHA hospital patient and employee safety resource;
- Work with employees and/or contractors to improve Safe Patient Handling Programs and/or a Safety and Health Management Systems; and
- Prepare for more safety-related whistleblower complaints by setting up effective processes to quickly investigate and address complaints and employee injuries and illnesses.
Below are some excerpts from the article:
On January 15, 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a new online resource to address both worker and patient safety in hospitals.
According to OSHA, a hospital is one of the most dangerous places to work, as employees can face numerous serious hazards from lifting and moving patients, to exposure to chemical hazards and infectious diseases, to potential slips, trips, falls, and potential violence by patients—all in a dynamic and ever-changing environment. . . .…