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Patient handling and healthcare worker safety

Among the many types of tasks healthcare workers perform is patient handling. This includes thing such as lifting, repositioning, transferring and mobilizing patients. Safety concerns can arise for healthcare workers in relation to such tasks. Sometimes, such workers suffer injuries, such as musculoskeletal injuries, during the course of patient handing.

So, it can be very important for healthcare workers to understand their rights regarding patient handling.

This includes what rights and protections they have under California laws and regulations when it comes to patient handling safety. Having a firm understanding of this can help a worker understand whether their rights are being respected and they are getting the protections they are supposed to at their place of work. It can also help them be aware of when they may need to speak up about how things are being done at their workplace.

California puts certain requirements on hospitals when it comes to patient handling. This includes a requirement to have a safety plan related to patient handling in place. This plan is to be directed towards protecting the safety of workers and patients.

Cal/OSHA has a factsheet on these requirements. The fact sheet is aimed at being a resource for hospital workers. Among the things the factsheet goes over are:

  • What situations the requirements apply to.
  • What hospitals are required to have in their patient handling plans.
  • What procedures are to be outlined in such plans.
  • What training hospitals are required to provide workers when it comes to patient handling.

When a California hospital worker suffers an injury in connection to patient handling, another set of rights that can end up being very impactful for them are their rights related to workers’ comp. Now, an injured worker might have some uncertainties regarding what workers’ comp rights they have. If they don’t receive clarification on the things they are uncertain of in this respect, such uncertainties could put a worker at a significant disadvantage during their pursuit of a workers’ comp claim. So, legal guidance on their workers’ comp rights is among the things healthcare workers may want to promptly seek out following suffering a patient handling injury at work.

Source: Cal/OSHA, “Safe Patient Handling in California,” June 2016

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