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Safety protocols for health care workers are being resisted

Nursing professionals in New Jersey hospitals can be affected by many on-the-job hazards, but the implementation of new standards to protect these workers can be difficult. One of the most contentious issues has been the establishment of safety protocols and rules related to musculoskeletal disorders resulting from the repositioning of patients. For some who work in a health care setting, such an injury can be significant enough to interfere with or end a person's ability to work. Although the implementation of safe practices could protect the health of workers while also saving money for their employers, a recent report by an advocacy group indicates that leaders in the industry do not have any plans to address the high rate of work-related injuries for nurses.

Those representing health care workers are in support of clear standards that would improve safety conditions for employees. However, employers are resistant to new regulations. The head of OSHA has addressed the issue by sending a letter to administrators of hospitals, providing an overview of the hazardous nature of hospitals for workers. In fact, the agency has recently added musculoskeletal injuries to inspection points for its investigators. However, the establishment of a clear rule has been difficult. An attempt in 2000 to create such a rule met with opposition as Congress later repealed the standard.

Most nurses who are injured on the job are eligible for workers' compensation coverage. Medical treatment for workplace injuries should be paid for through this system. However, it is important to document any situations leading to such injuries to ensure that a claim can be supported.

If a nurse or other health care worker is dealing with a health problem that is cumulative because of patient repositioning or other activity that has occurred over many years' time, having a workers' compensation claim approved might be more difficult. In such a case, legal representation could be helpful.

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