Employee Safety Information for Nursing Home Owners & Operators

Nursing Home Employee Safety Guide

Nursing home employees use all kinds of equipment. They have tools for all sorts of tasks. Nursing home workers engage with many people. Residents live on the premises. Visitors come to see them. Salesmen come to meet with administrators. Medical personnel come to treat residents.

This is just a snapshot. Yet, it does capture the many risks that employees face. The fact that they encounter all sorts of situations means their safety is at risk all the time. As a nursing home operator, you need to be aware of this. You need to ensure their safety. Doing this will protect your business. In the next sections, we outline nursing home employee safety issues. Then, we offer a system you can use to protect them. If you have more questions, contact our offices. We have years of experience in this industry.

Nursing Home Employee Safety Issues

It might surprise you to learn the rate of injury for nursing home workers. They lead other industries when it comes to lost days for injury and illness. According to government reports, it’s almost three times higher than other professions. This is shocking because homes can do a lot to prevent accidents.

What kinds of risks do nursing home workers face? To be blunt, they face a lot of them. Here is just a simple list of them.

  • Diseases.
  • Chemical exposure.
  • Lung problems.
  • Muscular degeneration.
  • Other workplace risks.

Why does this trouble arise? Well, remember the kinds of people they house. Nursing home residents often have diseases and health problems. This requires treatment. Exposure to that can cause a lot of health complications. Also, many nurses and other home workers must perform repetitive and strenuous work. Over time, this can wear down the body and create long-term pain. For instance, they might have to help lift and move residents. They might also have to move and lift residents’ personal items. Other nursing home work creates safety issues. For example, staff might need to fix the electrical, HVAC, or other systems. In any one of these, a worker could get hurt.

As you can see, nursing homes face several safety challenges. In fact, nursing home workers have a rate of skeletal disorders almost ten times higher than other workers. This means you have to be on the lookout. You must have a system in place to protect worker health. We review that process now as well as state and federal mandates.

Nursing Home Safety Standards

The federal government has set standards for safety in nursing homes. It’s done that through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA). States have also promulgated rules regarding worker safety on top of these federal laws. OHSA prescribes how nursing homes must protect employees in a variety of contexts. Just take a look at some things it’s ruled on.

  • Machine work.
  • Electrical wiring.
  • Blood handling.
  • Fire extinguisher maintenance.
  • Patient transfer.

You can find OHSA standards for nursing homes and residential care facilities in section 623 (6231-6239). Here are the key provisions.

  • OHSA Standard 6231: Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)

  • OHSA Standard 6232: Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities

  • OHSA Standard 6233: Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly

  • OHSA Standard 6239: Other Residential Care Facilities

Normally, the exact requirements depend on the size of the nursing home. Generally, homes must devise and implement a system that ensures worker safety. States give that mission more meaning. Look at Illinois’ language.

“A hospital must adopt and ensure implementation of a policy to identify, assess, and develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients and nurses and other health care workers associated with the lifting, transferring, repositioning, or movement of a patient. The policy shall establish a process that, at a minimum, includes all of the following…” 210 ILCS 85/6.25b

In the next few sections, we want to highlight some major parts of that system. You should inject them into your nursing home worker safety system.

Nursing Home Safety Training

The first step to identifying nursing home safety problems is training your workers. You need to instruct them on proper techniques. You also need to show them how to avoid significant injury. All of your employees must be trained at the onset. This will alert them to what’s wrong. Then, they can turn around and help you identify safety issues. A smart and responsive team is critical to nursing home safety. It prevents issues, identifies them; and responds to them. Many companies offer safety training and instruction for nursing homes. You can find one that works with your staff in a convenient and effective manner. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Nursing Home Safety Reporting

Your training and surveillance are so critical because nursing homes have many reporting obligations. States and the federal government require you to spot issues and report them as they happen. If you don’t, you will get in even more trouble. Agencies cite and fine you for issues like bed sores, falls, and other accidents. Don’t add insult to injury by failing to monitor, identify, and report these mess ups. Hire smart staff that will be on the lookout for these issues. Train them well so that they know exactly what to do when events arise. Monitor each worker so that you can be sure information is going up the chain. To learn more about your reporting obligations with nursing home safety, contact an experienced professional. As a nursing home operator, you have significant responsibilities regarding worker safety. A lot of these relate to reporting. Be certain not to overlook any of these demands!

Nursing Home Employee Safety Resources

Take a second to review these resources on employee safety in nursing homes.

Learn more about how to better operate your nursing home! Read these pages.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric