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The Need to Legislate the Healthcare Industry in the State of Washington to Protect Healthcare Workers from Back Injury
National Consultant in Occupational Health, President of Healthcare Safety Consulting, Seattle, Washington, USA
There is an epidemic of healthcare worker back injury in the State of Washington. Voluntary programs are not keeping pace with the increasing back injury rates to healthcare workers. Adding all the healthcare industry SIC codes, hospitals, nursing homes, home health and residential care puts healthcare as the leading industry in the State of Washington for back injury. Licensed practical nurses, nurses aides, and registered nurses account for the majority of all claims in the healthcare industry. Self-insured hospitals led the state for lost time com-pensable back injuries between 1993 and 2001, and combined Washington State Fund and self-insured healthcare hospitals and nursing homes led all other industries for compensable soft-tissue disorders of the neck, back, and upper extremities. Legislation is needed to protect this group of workers in this type of industry. A bill will be re-introduced in the 2006 session that calls for hospitals to implement back injury prevention programs through either the Zero-Lift model, with nursing staff use of lift equipment, or the Lift-Team model, with a specially trained team using lift equipment, or a combination of the two, for all shifts. The State of Washington should provide funding, through savings created by back injury prevention programs, for small rural healthcare institutions to assist them in compliance with the legislation.
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