Residential care and DART rates

In this installment of my series examining outreach letters that fed-OSHA recently sent to facilities with 2010 DART rates of 2.0 or higher, I’m looking at “Homes for the Elderly” (NAICS 623312), commonly referred to as residential / community care or assisted living facilities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “This U.S. industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing residential and personal care services (i.e., without on-site nursing care facilities) for (1) the elderly or other persons who are unable to fully care for themselves and/or (2) the elderly or other persons who do not desire to live independently. The care typically includes room, board, supervision, and assistance in daily living, such as housekeeping services.”

As a subset of the NAICS 623-group (Nursing and Residential Care), these facilities are included in the recent National Emphasis Program for OSHA inspections. OSHA intends to inspect the 1,000 Nursing Care facilities with the highest DART rates (lost work time), looking at ergonomics, BBP, workplace violence, slip/trip/fall and a wider scope for those with the very highest rates. The good news for the Residential Care sub-group is that only one facility (in Marietta, GA) reported a DART rate (17.9) high enough to be included on the inspection list.

Overall, Residential Care incidence rates are lower (just barely) than your Nursing Care brethren, but with more than double the national average of recordable illnesses and injuries, you make an attractive target. The industry is already spending much more than average for workers comp and related, and over the next year or so OSHA will be hitting all around you.

This sector also fits into SIC 8361 and includes facilities ranging from alcohol rehab to orphanages to halfway homes. In the last five years, you had 721 OSHA inspections, and last year received 13 fed-OSHA inspections that resulted in 90 citations and $74,456 in penalties. The top citations were typical of healthcare-related: bloodborne pathogens, HazCom, electrical and paperwork.

For now the old adage applies: you don’t have to outrun the bear – you just have to outrun the guy next to you. But isn’t that just temporary shelter until they get ahead of you? Take a lesson from history (and current events): be proactive, build a culture of safety and get your numbers down. Or don’t, and wait until the others do, and then it will be your turn to do it the hard way.

UL gives workforce health and safety professionals more of the tools they need to proactively address risks, reduce costs and keep people safe, healthy and on the job.