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OSHA plans in-depth inspections of health care facilities

A new policy that was announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on June 25 could result in stricter inspections of health care facilities in Minnesota. When a health care facility is targeted for an inspection for any reason, OSHA representatives will now be tasked with looking for five specific workplace hazards. They include patient handling, workplace violence, bloodborne pathogens, tuberculosis and slips, trips and falls.

OSHA said that even if an inspection of a health care facility begins for a reason that is not related to the five key hazards, inspectors will be strictly monitoring and enforcing safety rules related to them. Inspectors have also been told to investigate health care facilities for drug resistant organisms like MRSA and hazardous chemical exposure.

Because the hazards that OSHA is interested in investigating are prevalent in the health care industry, the initial inspections will likely result in further inspections, citations and penalties. When OSHA investigates patient handling, it will be paying close attention to the effectiveness of a facility's ergonomic injury prevention measures. OSHA will look into whether a facility has lifting equipment available and whether employees have the ability to ask for assistance in lifting a patient when they need to.

Health care workers who have been injured at their workplace may be eligible to apply for workers' compensation benefits. A lawyer may assist an injured health care worker with their application while they are recovering from their injuries. Many people who have suffered on-the-job injuries are able to claim a portion of wages that were lost as well as reimbursement for medical expenses.

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