High worker injury rates in nursing homes trigger possible OSHA inspection

| April 3, 2013
nurse helps an elderly patient into bed

Image via Karp Home Care.

As many as 1000 nursing homes with high worker injury and illness rates in 2011 have now come under OSHA’s radar for a possible safety inspection. Residential care facilities including business homes, nursing homes, and convalescent homes were issued warning letters for a possible inspection by OSHA, the federal agency charged with enforcement of safety and health legislation in the U.S.

The letters sent to employers by David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of OSHA read:

“Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) surveyed employers to collect workplace injury and illness data. The Agency used these data to identify the approximately 10,000 workplaces with Days Away from Work, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rates greater than the average rate for their industry; your workplace was one of those identified. This means workers in your establishment are being injured at a higher rate than in most other businesses in your industry.”

x-ray radiation hazard sign

Nursing home staff face a variety of work-related hazards, including exposure to x-ray radiation. (View this sign here.)

The entire letter issued under the Freedom of Information Act can be viewed here. The letter issued, however, does not imply a confirmed inspection but only indicates a possible one.  It is among over 2,500 workplaces that could be inspected.

McKnight.com reports, “The average DART rate for nursing care facilities in 2011 was 5.3, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This represents the number of incidences or injuries per 100 full-time workers.” The warning letters come at a time when a news release from Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a decline in healthcare facilities for the year 2011.

Nursing homes and healthcare facilities face a number of serious safety and health hazards, some of which include musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic hazards due to repetitive lifting, bloodborne pathogens, radioactive and x-ray hazards, respiratory hazards, anesthetic gas exposure, and laser hazards.

Category: News, OSHA