BOSTON - Improving workplace safety and health for nurses and other health care workers is the goal of an alliance between the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). Representatives from the organizations signed the alliance agreement at a ceremony during the MNA Annual Convention held last week.
"This alliance is an example of OSHA’s commitment to foster compliance assistance for workers and employers to improve health and safety for health care workers," said Marthe B. Kent, OSHA's Regional Administrator for New England. "This alliance focuses on how to prevent worker exposures to hazardous drugs and chemicals, workplace violence, as well as ergonomic injuries in health care settings."
MNA, with more than 22,000 members working in 85 health care facilities, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses and health professionals in the Commonwealth and is recognized as a leader in improving workplace safety and health conditions in the health care industry. The MNA is only the second state nurses association in the nation to establish an OSHA alliance, the other being the New York State Nurses Association.
Through the statewide alliance, OSHA and MNA will develop workplace safety and health "Best Practices Guides" and provide members and others in the industry with information, guidance, training and access to resources that will protect employees' health and safety. Specific activities will include the development of seminars, workshops and conferences, development of web-based education tools, and dissemination of print materials to educate both employers and employees.
"Nurses and other health care workers are exposed to serious hazards every day, under working conditions that increase the likelihood of injury," said MNA President Karen Higgins, RN. "Nurses suffer musculo-skeletal injuries on a par with construction workers and injuries from workplace violence equal to workers in law enforcement. This alliance is yet another step in our organization’s effort to educate the health care workforce to mitigate the dangers in their workplace, and to learn how to take steps to improve their work environment to prevent injuries from occurring."
A joint OSHA, MNA and Mass. Division of Occupational Safety implementation team made up of representatives from each organization will develop a plan of action, determine working procedures and identify roles and responsibilities of the participants. They will meet regularly to share information on activities and results in achieving the goals of the alliance, which will remain in effect for two years.