Monday, March 27, 2006

Thousands Of Disabled Health Care Professionals Thank George Bush

In November 2000, this nation finally took a giant step toward addressing the biggest workplace hazard facing American workers: strains, sprains and back injuries, technically known as musculoskeletal disorders. Among the main victims were our nation's caregivers, nurses, nursing home workers and home health care professionals. After a ten year fight with Congressional Republicans and the business community, OSHA finally issued its long-awaited ergonomics standard.

Less than two months after George W. Bush took office, however, the standard was dead, repealed by Congress, its death sentence signed by George W. Bush.

The administration promised a "comprehensive plan" to address ergonomics injuries. Aside from dozens of industry alliances, the only thing the Bush program has produced is a handful of OSHA citations over the past five years.

A handful of OSHA citations and thousands of disabled workers, disabled from injuries that didn't have to happen.


"Imagine lifting 200 pounds or more of dead weight by yourself several times a day. That's a typical day for nurses and X-ray techs, and it's becoming unbearable."

And then imagine suffering chronic pain for the rest of your life.

More than half of nurses and radiology technicians don't have to imagine. It's their reality.

According to Candice Owley, chair of Healthcare for the American Federation of Teachers. "Construction workers use cranes, package delivery personnel use dollies, yet most healthcare workers are on their own and getting hurt. This is affecting patient care and the profession."

AFT released a study today, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research associates showing that
Large majorities of both hospital nurses and radiology technicians report that they have suffered job-related chronic pain or on-the-job injuries resulting from lifting, moving or repositioning patients. Among nurses, 56 percent have suffered chronic pain and/or an injury that they associate with lifting or moving patients. Among radiology technicians, fully 64 percent have suffered chronic pain, injury or both.
The study also found that whereas staffing had been the number one problem among nurses, "the physical demands of the job have become so severe that these are now considered by nurses to be just as serious a problem as understaffing."

And they're not at all happy about the situation, which is bad news considering the on-going nursing shortage:
Among all nurses, slightly fewer than half (47 percent) have considered leaving their field during the past two years specifically because of their work's physical demands. The proportion of nurses who have considered leaving rises to 59 percent among those who have suffered from chronic pain or injuries, compared to 31 percent among those who have not experienced on-the-job pain or injury.
The study also looked at what action nurses and other hospital professionals thought should be taken:
The vast majority of nurses and radiology technicians believe that their state should adopt regulations mandating that hospitals provide patient-moving equipment and relevant training. More than four in five nurses (82 percent) and radiology technicians (85 percent)would support state standards.
So any of you health care professionals out there who are reading this, remember that this is an election year, and there are crimes to answer for. What you do at the ballot box has a direct effect on your chances of living a healthy life.