Press Release

Registered Nurses Urge Cal/OSHA to Adopt Proposed Stronger Safe Patient Handling Regulations

RNs Also Petition Regulators to Establish Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Standards

Registered nurses, affiliated with the California Nurses Association, traveled to Sacramento from throughout the state today to urge the Cal/OSHA Board to adopt new regulations on safe patient handling and to petition regulators to establish standards for workplace violence prevention.  

The proposed safe patient handling regulations are designed to protect registered nurses and other healthcare workers from patient handling injuries and to provide patients with safe and appropriate care.

The regulations were developed over the past year to enforce Assembly Bill 1136, the Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act. Registered nurses affiliated with CNA took an active role in advocating for the new regulations, testifying at Cal/OSHA hearings on the serious and ongoing nature of inadequate training and equipment for safe patient handling in hospitals throughout the state.

Each year, thousands of RNs suffer back and musculoskeletal injuries while providing care in California hospitals. Many RNs are forced out of their occupation due to the severity of their injuries.

If adopted the new regulations would require hospital employers to have staff and equipment available at all times to assist with staff mobilization. It also requires that employers provide comprehensive training for healthcare workers and recognize registered nurses as the coordinators of care in relationship to safe patient handling.

"We are so pleased to see the proposed safe patient handling regulations so faithfully reflecting the language and intent of our sponsored legislation, AB 1136.  These regulations will provide protections for RNs, other healthcare workers, and patients to ensure healthcare workers are appropriately trained, involved in making and revising policy, that lift equipment is available and operable, and make certain adequate staff is available to provide lift assistance without neglecting other patient care duties," said Deborah Burger, CNA Co-President.

"This is historic regulation that will prevent many thousands of RNs and other healthcare workers from crippling musculoskeletal injuries and disability, and will help us mobilize our patients safely," said Burger, an RN at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Rosa.

"My hospital was recently cited for violating many of the provisions these regulations will address.  I look forward to a day where patients and healthcare workers are mobilized in ways that ensure the safety of everyone," said Michele Mueller, an RN at the Ventura County Health Care Agency.

In addition to petitioning Cal/OSHA to set strong standards on healthcare workplace violence prevention, CNA is also pursuing legislation to address the issue of workplace violence. Earlier this week, the Assembly Health Committee passed a CNA sponsored bill, SB 1299 (Padilla), the Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Act, which passed the full Senate last month.   

"We are thrilled to lead the charge to make hospitals safe environments for healing, rather than the shockingly violent places they are now.  Whether we succeed through the legislative or regulatory process, registered nurses will not rest until our healthcare facilities protect patients, visitors, and staff from violent incidents," said Karen Boxley, an RN at Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, CA.