Health and Safety in the Workplace

Health and Safety in the Workplace

Minnesota is recognized across the country as a leader in addressing the myriad of health and safety issues nurses face in their work environment. Blood-borne pathogens, violence, back injuries, and other factors jeopardize nurses every day.

Since the late 1980s, we have insisted on including health and safety issues in contract language.

Infectious disease protection. In 2014, MNA and National Nurses United were at the forefront of demanding protection for nurses and other healthcare workers during an international Ebola outbreak. We took the lead in demanding the optimal protective equipment and training for healthcare workers and patients, bringing public attention to the importance of protecting healthcare workers caring for patients with infectious diseases of any type.

Minnesota nurses stood together and did not give up in the face of opposition from the hospital industry. We talked to the news media, held a candlelight vigil, and pushed hospitals and government to do more to create safe workplaces for nurses and other healthcare workers.

As a result of member activism, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) announced in 2015 that it would expand outreach and compliance inspections in order to protect workers in the state’s healthcare industry.

Workplace violence. Ten years before it gained national attention, we were working with state and national congressional agencies about violence in the workplace. We achieved significant rule changes in OSHA standards.

We educated our own colleagues about the importance of injury prevention. In addition, we gained important inroads in dealing with the aftermath of injuries. Where nurses once were shut out of insurance when workers’ compensation kicked in, language in many Minnesota contracts now provides for continued economic contributions to health insurance premiums for up to 24 months after the injury.

In 2015, MNA won a major legislative victory, thanks to member activism. Nurses flooded the Capitol, emailed, phoned, and texted legislators about their experiences with workplace violence and why legislation was needed immediately. Legislators, listened, and in just one session, passed  the Violence Against Health Care Workers law requiring hospitals to create and implement violence prevention plans.

Workplace Health and Safety Resources

GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

BLOODBORNE PATHOGENS AND PREVENTING NEEDLESTICK INJURIES

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) AND CONTROL OF AIRBORNE PATHOGENS

SAFE PATIENT HANDLING AND LIFTING (INCLUDING NO-LIFT POLICIES)

LATEX ALLERGY

CHEMICALS AND HAZARDOUS DRUGS

ERGONOMICS

INFECTIOUS ISSUES

ACCOMMODATION