Nearly nine months after OSHA announced its plans to release industry-specific ergonomics guidelines for nursing homes, the finalized set of guidelines were made publicly available on March 13, 2003.
Beginning with the announcement in July, 2002, the nursing home industry guidelines were developed through a process involving a draft set of guidelines followed by a comment period and subsequent stakeholders meetings involving OSHA and nursing home industry representatives.
Industry groups, including the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA), had praise for the long-anticipated guidelines. In a joint AHCA and AAHSA press release, the groups said that OSHA’s nursing home guidelines “demonstrate an understanding of the complexities involved with applying ergonomics to the lifting, transferring, and repositioning of nursing home residents.” The AHCA and the AAHSA also commended OSHA for including industry members in the guideline creation process.
In the past, drafts of the nursing home industry guidelines were criticized for relying too heavily on special equipment, preaching instead of teaching, being disjointed and being unenforceable. All industry-specific ergonomics guidelines being created by OSHA rely on voluntary compliance.
In the finalized guidelines’ summary, OSHA recommends that “manual lifting of residents be minimized in all cases and eliminated when feasible,” and “employers [should] implement an effective ergonomics process that provides management support, involves employees, identifies problems, implements solutions, addresses reports of injuries, provides training, and evaluates ergonomics efforts.”
OSHA is also creating guidelines for the retail grocery and poultry processing industries. OSHA expects to have a draft of retail grocery guidelines ready by the end of March, 2003.