Lawmakers request audit of DOL proposal to allow teens to operate powered patient liftsSafety+Health Magazine #Safety_HealthJanuary 12, 2019
Washington — The chair of the renamed House Committee on Education and Labor, along with a likely 2020 presidential candidate, are among the lawmakers asking for an audit of the Department of Labor’s proposal to allow unsupervised 16- to 17-year-old workers to operate powered patient lifts .
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who announced her potential bid for the White House on Dec. 31, joined Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and three House Democrats in writing a letter to DOL Inspector General Scott Dahl.
In the Jan. 7 letter, the group asks if the department “deviated from agency regulatory and data quality requirements” in developing its notice of proposed rulemaking, issued Sept. 27.
DOL also did not include full survey results in its original docket or “any information regarding its methodology.” “DOL’s failure to publicly disclose the 2012 survey during the public comment period deviates from [ Executive Order 13563 ] transparency requirements that ensure the public is able to make meaningful, informed comments on proposals,” the letter states.
The survey was sent to 42 vocational programs, but 25 or fewer responded to 12 of the 15 multiple-choice questions.
“The results of this survey were that Massachusetts decided they need to educate votech programs and employers on the new policy – not that the new policy was not working,” Berkowitz wrote in an email to S+H .
In their letter, the lawmakers also point to a 2011 NIOSH report that concluded “many 16- and 17-year-old employees cannot safely operate power-driven hoists to lift and transfer patients by themselves” and recommends that two caregivers operate the lift to move patients.
The proposed rule states that teens seeking to learn the skill would need – according to federal or state regulations – at least 75 hours of training and at least 16 hours of supervision under a registered nurse who has at least two years of experience.
The comment period on the NPRM ended Dec. 11.
The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network, and LeadingAge are among the organizations supporting the change.