Operating room nurse Bernadette Haskins, who weighs 125 pounds, says lifting immobile patients who are sometimes nearly three times her size makes the risk of injury a constant worry for her and her colleagues.
“I love what I do, but the average weight of patients we take care of is about 300 pounds, and sometimes there's no extra help available,” said Haskins, who works at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. She said she's one of the few nurses there who have not had to take time off because of an occupational injury. The safety protocols Swedish has adopted for handling patients aren't always followed, she said.
Later this year, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is scheduled to finalize a rule requiring healthcare employers and those in other industries to report cases of occupational injuries and illnesses. OSHA has said it will make the data public through a website that will allow anyone to search employers' injury and illness reports.
Currently, employers are required to keep internal paper records of injuries and illnesses that occur at their workplace, but the information is not made publicly available.
Under the proposed rule, employers would electronically transfer worker injury records to OSHA. The agency then would make it possible for the public to search how many injuries and illnesses occurred at a each workplace, the title of the affected employee, and the circumstances related to each incident.