Proposed DOL rule seeks to improve CNA workforce shortage by changing lift requirements

The Department of Labor (DOL) on Sept. 27 published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to operate power-driven patient lifts without an adult present.

The proposed rule, called “Expanding Employment, Training, and Apprenticeship Opportunities for 16 and 17-Year-Olds in Health Care Occupations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act”, is in response to significant public input and bipartisan, bicameral requests from members of Congress. One of the major issues in nursing homes is the frequent heavy lifting and repositioning of residents that exceed the lifting capacity of most caregivers. Currently, workers under the age of 18 are prohibited from operating lifts without adult present. Given the serious shortage of people to fill certified nurse assistant (CNA) positions, this restriction has made staffing an even greater challenge.

The proposed rule is expected to be an executive order 13771 deregulatory action and is open for comment until Nov. 26. Comments are welcome on whether the department’s proposed definition is appropriate or, if not, how the proposed definition should be revised.

If the department adopts this proposed rule without change, health care employers would likely increase the number of employment, apprenticeship and training opportunities for 16- and 17-year-olds.