A new nurse union has announced it is stepping up its campaign against new regulations put in place to protect the rights of its members.
The New Nurses United union announced Thursday that it will sue the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to win an extension of a two-year moratorium on the use of the agency’s hazardous chemical agent (HCG) testing.
“The proposed HCG moratorium is harmful to the health and well-being of nurses, their families, and the communities they serve,” the group said in a statement.
A draft of OSHA’s proposal to the Federal Labor Relations Board (FLRB) says the agency will continue to require employers to use HCM as long as it is “not being used to create a safety risk” to staff.
In its new proposal, the union said the agency “has failed to establish a reasonable standard for how much time the agency considers necessary to evaluate the risks posed by HCG” in workplace accidents.
HHC has been used in workplace disasters and fires.
The union argues that the agency should have “a reasonable standard” of what constitutes “a safety risk.”
The union said it will challenge OSHA “to find out how OSHA defines the term ‘hazardous’ in its proposed rule, so that nurses can be assured that their health is protected and they will not have to risk injury or death to avoid HCG testing.”
“This rule is a step in the right direction for nurses,” said Nurse Maria Rios, a member of the union.
Rios is the national director of the National Nurses Association.
OSHA has said it is looking at the proposed rule and will decide whether to approve or reject it by the end of the month.
Last week, OSHA published draft guidance for the agency that it said would be finalized by early September.
According to the guidance, HCG “is not an acceptable substitute for existing testing methods.”
In a letter to the union, OSHHA wrote that HCG tests “do not identify a potential hazard and can therefore be used only as a tool for identifying potential hazards that are not likely to be identified or detected by other testing methods, such as chemical analyses.”
OSHHA also said that it is concerned that the HCG test is “likely to increase the risk of injury and death” to workers.
It has proposed the HCg testing rule as part of a plan to overhaul the agency.
But in a letter addressed to the AFL-CIO, a national labor federation that represents more than 1.2 million workers, OSHEAS deputy director Beth Anderle wrote that the proposed HCg rule would “increase the risk” of injury to workers by requiring “more time for the testing to be conducted, and for testing results to be sent to the lab for analysis and analysis results to come back.”
She added that OSHA had proposed the rule “without consulting with nurses.”
On Friday, Nurses United released a statement announcing the union would be joining the NLRB in a lawsuit to get OSHA to extend the HCGB moratorium.
Read more about nurses unions in The National Nursets Union