WASHINGTON—Following is a statement from AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act, introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.):
"Nurses and other healthcare workers put their patients first. Sometimes, these workers get physically hurt by helping the people they care for. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses and other healthcare workers continue to have some of the highest rates of work-related back injuries from lifting, transferring or repositioning patients, while 38 percent of nurses suffer from pain severe enough to require leave from work.
"The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act provides a wonderful solution for patients, nurses and other healthcare workers by creating a federal standard on safe patient handling, mobility and injury prevention. In healthcare facilities that already have instituted such a standard, we have seen dramatic decreases in injuries—and the associated costs. In fact, advancements in patient-handling technology could soon render manual patient handling unnecessary. Yet the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt recommendations for equipment and safe patient-handling practices that have been widely recognized for nearly 20 years.
"As the nation's second-largest nurses union, the American Federation of Teachers supports Sen. Franken's and Rep. Conyers' efforts to give our members a safe healthcare environment in which they can do what they do best—provide the highest-quality of care for their patients."