In June 2015, OSHA acknowledged the need for improved safety standards for healthcare workers and other caregivers, noting the work-related injury and illness rate for hospital workers was nearly twice the national average of all workers. OSHA has a website to assist hospitals and other healthcare employers in improving safety, but it has failed to enact the additional regulations that are needed and its chronic underfunding limits its ability to enforce the few regulations that currently apply. Hospitals would benefit from decreased workers compensation claims and less lost time from injuries, but the healthcare industry will not improve workplace safety unless pressured to do so.
The Affordable Care Act has created new incentives for healthcare providers to keep costs low and mandates that insurers must spend 80 percent of premiums on patient care. Without pressure from workers, unions and allied groups, the healthcare industry will attempt to balance its books on the backs of healthcare workers.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th UE CONVENTION:
- Demands healthcare workers have a safe working environment with adequate levels of permanent full-time staff who are fairly compensated for their labor;
- Urges OSHA to enact comprehensive regulations to prevent workplace injuries in hospitals and other healthcare settings;
- Demands Congress fully fund OSHA to provide necessary funding for enforcement of healthcare workplace safety regulations;
- Calls on the union at all levels to:
- Fight against efforts by hospital administrators to balance their budgets on the backs of healthcare workers who provide care and services to the American public;
- Educate the public about the important role of healthcare workers, including nursing assistants, medical techs, and transporters of patients;
- Build solidarity with local nurses’ unions and support their campaigns.