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Common-Sense Patient Handling Bill Protects Patients and Nurses

United American Nurses Pledges Support for Legislation

SILVER SPRING, Md., May 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- RNs from across the country today vowed support for legislation that will protect nurses from dangerous and debilitating patient handling injuries. The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 2381), reintroduced today by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), requires OSHA to develop and implement a standard to eliminate manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and other health care workers through the use of mechanical devices. The legislation also requires health care facilities to develop a plan to comply with the standard (with input from RNs), provides protection for RNs through refusal of assignment and whistleblower provisions and requires the Secretary of Labor to perform audits.

UAN nurses have worked closely with Rep. Conyers to provide RN input on this critical bill in past sessions of Congress and are optimistic about passage of the legislation and subsequent approval by President Obama.

"There is no reason why an RN should have to accept a lifetime of injury or chronic pain as part of his or her job," said UAN President Ann Converso, RN. "Protecting the health and well-being of nurses makes good sense for patients, too. Injured nurses can't properly care for patients, and RNs deserve better than putting themselves and their livelihoods at risk to deliver care."

Direct care RNs get injured at a higher rate than laborers, movers and truck drivers from repositioning, moving and lifting patients, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related lifting injuries in turn lead many nurses to leave the profession, with more than half of all nurses complaining of chronic back pain and 38 percent suffering from pain severe enough to require leave from work.

"We look forward to working with Rep. Conyers and other cosponsors to move this legislation forward," added Converso. "There are devices out there that remove the need for the dangerous manual lifting of patients by nurses and hospitals must be required to use them. We must do everything we can to attract and retain RNs at the bedside, and we applaud Rep. Conyers for taking up this measure."

The United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, represents nurses across the country in state nurses associations, collective bargaining programs and independent unions, uniting to work for change on the issues important to staff RNs.

SOURCE United American Nurses, AFL-CIO
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