Health and Safety - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

Health and Safety

This is the home page for resources and information on health and safety. You'll find on this page updates on key developments and events, as well as links to specific resources. Click below to access these resources:


OSHA Issues Updated Workplace Violence Prevention Guidelines

April 30, 2015

Healthcare and social service workers face significant risks of job-related violence. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just updated its guidelines for preventing workplace violence for these workers. OSHA’s guidelines provide recommendations for developing policies and procedures to eliminate or reduce workplace violence in a range of healthcare and social service settings.

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The Demolition of Workers’ Comp

March 9, 2015

Over the past decade, state after state has been dismantling America’s workers’ comp system with disastrous consequences for many of the hundreds of thousands of people who suffer serious injuries at work each year, a ProPublica and NPR investigation has found.

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NPR Report: Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients

February 9, 2015

An investigative report by National Public Radio (NPR) reporter, Daniel Zwerdling, reveals how hospitals are failing to prevent workplace injuries of nursing staff.

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OSHA Changes Reporting Requirements for Employers

January 9, 2015

OSHA has updated and revised its reporting requirements for employers. Effective January 1, 2015, employers will now have to report the following to OSHA: all work-related fatalities, all work-related in-patient hospitalizations of employees, all work-related amputations, and all work-related losses of an eye. Employers will have eight hours to report fatalities to OSHA and twenty four hours to report in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye.

Read the OSHA Factsheet on the Changes in Reporting Requirements


Information and Resources on Ebola

October 19, 2014

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has emerged as a major challenge for public health systems throughout the world. Thousands have already died from the disease in west Africa and the U.S. had its first Ebola death Oct. 8. HPAE has a page on our website with fact sheets on Ebola, our union’s response, and news articles on the Ebola virus.

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New Toolkit to Prevent Workplace Violence in EDs

April 8, 2014

A new Workpace Violence Toolkit developed by the Emergency Nurses Association can help managers and staff  to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to manage violent behaviors in the emergency department and to protect staff.

Read the Toolkit


How Injuries For Hospital Workers Can Be Reduced

November 25, 2013

The bad news is that hospital workers have extremely high injury rates compared to other occupations. The good news is that there are many practical and proven ways to avoid these injuries. A supplemental issue of New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy offers a new free report that describes over 30 health hazards to hospital workers and over 150 ways to avoid them.

Read the Report


Workplace Injuries Cause Healthcare Industry Billions of Dollars

November 12, 2013

Healthcare workers had the highest injury rates of almost any industry in the country in 2011, costing the industry $13.1 billion and more than 2 million lost workdays, according to a new report published in the American Society of Safety Engineers' Professional Safety journal.

Read the Report


OSHA's Revised Hazard Communication Standard

November 11, 2013

OSHA's Hazard Communication standard requires communication and training about chemical hazards in workplaces. Last year, OSHA enacted major changes to the rule to conform to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The first deadline for compliance is December 1, 2013 (detailed below). Information about chemicals used in the workplace is important to HPAE members, who may be exposed to chemical disinfectants and sterilants, toxic therapeutic drugs, and cleaning and building materials.

Major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard

  • Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
  • Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.

Chemical manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers shall be in compliance with all modified provisions by June 1, 2015, and cannot ship containers without the new labeling system after December 1, 2015

All “downstream” employers must update workplace labeling, the hazard communication program, and provide any additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards no later than June 1, 2016.  Although the training requirements for employees on the new labeling requirements and the new SDS format must be completed by December 1, 2013, there are later dates requiring  employers to comply with all of the provisions. This will undoubtedly cause confusion.

THE OSHA website has extensive information on the changes and should be consulted.


Free On-line Course for Nurses on Workplace Violence Prevention

October 9, 2013

The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), within the Centers for Disease Control, has recently posted a free online course that was created to train nurses on recognizing and preventing workplace violence. NIOSH worked with health-care stakeholders, including nursing and labor organizations, academic groups, and other government agencies, to develop the course. The multimedia training incorporates lesson text, videos depicting workplace violence incidents, personal experiences of nurses with violence on the job, and lesson quizzes. Nurses can receive continuing education credits for completing the online course.

The course is separated into 13 units, each expected to take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Participants can restart the course where they last left off, allowing them to manage their time for taking the course. The course is available on the NIOSH website at
The course does not address the specific workplace violence policies and procedures and risk factors at any given location. Those topics must be addressed locally, and under the New Jersey Prevention of Violence in Healthcare Facilities law and regulations, healthcare employers are required to work with healthcare worker unions to conduct site specific risk assessments and implement site specific prevention plans. See the HPAE Workplace Violence Prevention website for more information


NJ Senate Fails to Override Christie's Veto of S-1778, the First Responders Bill

August 19, 2013

The New Jersey State Senate failed to override Governor Christie's veto of the First Responders Bill. The vote was 22-14 in favor of an override, but the vote fell just short of the 2/3 majority needed for an override.

All Democratic Senators voted for the override except Senator Cody, who voted No. All Republican Senators voted No, except for three who abstained.

Photo below: HPAE Vice-President Bernie Gerard (last on left), Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Rosen (4th from left), and Public Policy Staff member Jean Pierce (2nd from right)  lobbied with firefighter and police union representatives before the vote.

Read an Article on the Senate Vote


HPAE, Police and Fire Union Leaders, Urge Override of Christie's Veto of S-1778, the First Responders Bill

August 7, 2013

HPAE President Ann Twomey, as well as leaders of police and fire fighters' unons in New Jersey, are urging New Jersey state Senators to override Governor Christie's veto of a bill – S-1778 – that would have protected First Responders who are injured or contract a serious illness as a result of their exposure to dangerous substances in the line of duty. Nurses and other health care professionals are often part of a First Responders' team.

Read the Letter

For more information on this issue:

Star-Ledger Editorial Supporting S1778

HPAE Statement on the First Responders Bill


OSHA Outreach Campaign to Protect Healthcare Workers

July 24, 2013

OSHA announced today that they are implementing an outreach campaign to publicize the health and safety dangers faced by healthcare workers.

Read the OSHA Press Release


Health and Safety Risks for Healthcare Workers

July 17, 2013

A report issued by Public Citizen reveals how insufficient inspections of healthcare facilities and inadequate health and safety standards lead to serious risks for healthcare workers.

Read the Report


Avian Influenza

May 28, 2013

The emergence of avian influenza has health officials around the globe on high alert. Human infections with a new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus continue to be reported in China. The new H7N9 virus has not been detected in people or birds in the United States.

Avian influenza is caused by those influenza viruses that mainly affect birds and poultry and infected poultry is considered the source of the current outbreak in China. Since the virus does not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against it in the human population. If avian influenza virus begins to spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic can occur.  Human cases infected with avian influenza A (H5N1 and H9N2) viruses have been identified in Hong Kong and other parts of the world, while cases due to avian influenza A (H7N9) virus have been recently reported in Mainland China.

Twenty one patients have died in China and the case-fatality rate=20%. The average age was 62 years with a range between 2 and 89 years. Males were twice as likely to be a factor and higher age appears to be a risk factor. Fifty-five of 102 cases (54%) were aged 60 or above. Elderly men were the most affected demographic group.

Clinical presentation of avian influenza in humans includes eye infection (conjunctivitis), flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches) or severe respiratory illness (chest infection). The more virulent forms has resulted in respiratory and multi-organ failure.

People mainly become infected with avian influenza through close contact with infected birds and poultry (live or dead) or their droppings. Human-to-human transmission has not occurred.

The incubation period is about 10 days. People in close contact with poultry are more susceptible to contracting avian flu.

At present, there is no vaccine to prevent avian influenza in humans. Seasonal influenza vaccine cannot prevent avian influenza, however it can help reduce the chance of complications and hospitalization from seasonal influenza. Given influenza vaccines are safe and effective and that serious influenza infection can occur even in healthy individuals, seasonal influenza vaccination is suitable for personal protection against clinical influenza for all persons except those with known contraindications.

Guidelines for healthcare facilities have been developed and posted on the CDC website.  SOURCES: CDC, CIDRAP, and Chinese CDC websites.


South Jersey Hospitals Encourage, Not Mandate, Flu Vaccinations for Staff

January 17, 2013

Hospitals across the country have made news by mandating all employees receive a flu shot, but both Kennedy Health System and South Jersey Healthcare said they allow workers to make their own choice when it comes to the flu vaccination.

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HPAE Participates in National H&S Conference

December 10, 2012

On Dec. 6 & 7, health and safety activists from several HPAE locals attended the National Worker Safety and Health Conference, organized by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH groups). Approximately 300 participants – coming from unions at the local, state and national levels, worker centers, advocacy groups, family support groups, COSH organizations, and the federal government – gathered at the Maritime Institute to share their experiences and work together to advance the rights and protections for workers across the country.

The conference also included workshops on everything from “Basic Worker Health & Safety Rights Under OSHA,” to “Fighting Under-Reporting of Injuries and Illnesses,” to “Reaching ‘Yet-to-Be-Reached’ Workers” and “Young Worker Health and Safety,” to the Whistleblower Protection Campaign, to “Using Social Media to Promote Worker Health & Safety,” and much more!