OSHA’s Influence in Healthcare

We all know that OSHA is one of the top advocates for the health and safety of employees while on job. OSHA has set countless safety standards regarding everything from arc flash hazards to fall protection to safety signage. However, could there be a loophole in OSHA’s safety coverage? Some people say yes. A new report says healthcare workers suffer more injuries and illnesses each year than those in any other industry. According to the report, OSHA conducts relatively few inspections of healthcare facilities and is limited in its authority due to an absence of needed safety standards.

The field of healthcare is quite a bit different than the average manufacturing facility. There aren’t quite as many harsh risks when industrial equipment and heavy machinery are not involved. However, there are still serious risks that may contribute to employee injuries, many of them affecting the back. In the healthcare field, people are often assisting with patient mobility and are also engaged in quite a bit of moving, lifting, and bending. A specific watchdog organization known as Public Citizen has been keeping a close watch on this growing concern and has come up with some pretty eye-opening information.

According to the watchdog organization Public Citizen, nurses, nurse’s aides, orderlies, and attendants suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than workers in any other field. Costs associated with healthcare-related back injuries alone are estimated at more than $7 billion annually.


Seven billion dollars is a lot of money, especially when you consider that some of these injuries could have been prevented. However, we can’t place all of the blame on OSHA though. The unfortunate truth is that there are a couple of different bumps in the road that hinder OSHA’s ability to provide further protection and inspections within the healthcare sector. The two main items are adequate funding and congress. OSHA’s $535 million dollar budget may sound like a lot, but in reality it is merely just peanuts when you consider OSHA’s safety involvement with nearly every workplace across America.

OSHA Safety Inspections

OSHA conducts safety inspections in thousands and thousands of businesses annually with the majority being in manufacturing, construction, and industrial type settings. However, in addition to medical care related safety standards, there is also a lack of safety inspections being conducted within the healthcare sector.

Although healthcare workers outnumber construction employees by more than two to one, OSHA conducts one-twentieth the number of inspections of healthcare facilities, compared with construction sites, according to the report.


In order to keeping pushing forward in the mission to make each and every workplace safer, it is a necessity for OSHA to enhance its involvement in healthcare. Most people understand that this simply cannot and will not be an overnight change; in fact, it may take years for OSHA to expand its reach more effectively into the healthcare business sector. However, now that the issues have been identified through research, OHSA may be able to get started on creating a plan of action for further involvement in healthcare.

Resource: Safety.BLR.com 30. July 2013

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