ERGONOMICS: Nursing Home Group to Testify Against Rules
The American Health Care Association, the nation's largest trade group of corporate nursing homes, today is expected to testify that OSHA's proposed ergonomic rules are unnecessary to combat workplace injuries, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Officials from the association, which represents 12,000 nursing homes, are scheduled to testify at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension employment subcommittee hearing on OSHA's proposal. Under the plan, nearly all employers would be required to redesign the workplace to minimize employees' potential muscle and back injuries. The AHCA argues that the federal mandates are unnecessary because ergonomic-related injuries have decreased by about 17% since 1993. AHCA President Charles Roadman said, "Clearly, the current system and voluntary efforts to reduce (muscular-skeletal disorders) are working." Should the OSHA proposal be implemented, Roadman said that each nursing home would need to spend about $60,000 on mechanical lifts and training. However, defenders of the ergonomic rules contend that investments for safety measures would yield long term cost savings, improve patient care and create a more stable work force. "You could save $10 for every $1 spent," Bill Borwegen, health and safety director for the Service Employees International Union, said. While voluntary safety reforms implemented at a few hospitals and nursing homes around the country have resulted in improved patient care and major savings in worker's compensation costs, whether these programs should be mandated remains a source of controversy (Malone, 7/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.