DART rates and nursing homes

In this installment of my series examining outreach letters that OSHA recently sent to facilities with two or more 2010 DART incidents, I’m looking at Nursing Care Facilities (NAICS 623110), commonly referred to as nursing homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “These establishments have a permanent core staff of registered or licensed practical nurses who, along with other staff, provide nursing and continuous personal care services.”

How are they doing related to worker safety? Not so well, apparently.

From the list of DART letters, I found 2,608 nursing care facilities. As always, to keep taunting, deflection and hate-mail to a minimum, I won’t mention any names.

The 2010 loss leader was in Jackson, OH with a back-breaking (pun intended) DART rate of 89. No one else in the top 10 even came close:

  • Bethlehem, PA (38.6)
  • Palm Harbor, FL (35.1)
  • New London, CT (34.3)
  • Norwich, CT (33.8)
  • Windsor Locks, CT (33.3)
  • Minneola, KS (30.3)
  • Uncasville, CT (29.7)
  • Genoa, IL (29.4)
  • Seaford, DE (29.2)

The best performing 200 or so facilities at the other end of the list posted relatively low rates of 2-3. For comparison, the 2010 average DART rate for all industries, including State and local government, was 1.9. State nursing care facilities averaged 9.9 (highest of any sector), with local government (7.3) and private homes (5.6) not far behind.

This sector had 1.5% (1.87 million employees) of the U.S. workforce in 2010, but got around 17% of the OSHA DART letters. Already the subject of a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) with a 1000-facility quota for this year, based on the 2011 targeted inspection directive, the 300 or so facilities with DART rates above 16 are doubly assured of a comprehensive inspection.

What is causing all of these “Days Away, Restricted or Transferred” injuries? Almost certainly it’s patient handling and related ergonomic challenges, but there are also big issues with illness and infection control, BBPs and slips, trips and falls.

Is this going to finally make the case for an ergonomics standard? We’ll know more once OSHA publishes results from the expected large number of inspections this year.

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