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Franken bill seeks to limit nurses’ injuries


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn, introduced legislation today aimed at implementing safe patient-handling standards to protect nurses from injury on the job.

“Nurses and health-care workers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their safety and their livelihood to help others,” Franken said in a statement. “Especially when many of these injuries could be prevented.”

According to Franken, thousands of nurses are injured every year because of lifting patients, resulting in spinal-disc damage and back strain.

Franken’s bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a standard on safe patient handling and injury prevention that would require the use of lift equipment. It would also require that care facilities implement safe patient-handling and injury-prevention plans and provide workers with training. Workers would be protected from employer retaliation if they refused to accept assignments and the Department of Health and Human Services would be directed to administer a $200 million grant program to cover the costs of acquiring safe patient-handling equipment for certain facilities.

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“Facilities that have implemented safe patient-handling procedures have demonstrated that their initial investment in lift equipment is off-set in just a few years by the reduced cost of worker’s compensation payments and savings from fewer lost workdays,” Franken said.