Most healthcare organizations consider safety as a core value. However, the healthcare industry has significant injury rates compared to other occupations. In 2012, injury rates for a skilled nursing employer prompted OSHA to implement an aggressive review to improve ergonomic, slip and fall, bloodborne, and workplace violence prevention practices. OSHA compliance officers conducted a multiday inspection with specialists in ergonomics at a skilled nursing facility in Federal OSHA Region VIII.

This inspection resulted in a "serious level" citation for the lack of a safe patient-handling (ergonomic) program as well as nine other OSHA compliance violations.

This employer's journey through this inspection and citation resulted in my helping the client to implement a comprehensive Safe Patient/Resident Mobility Program (SPRMP), which dramatically reduced its lost-time and restructured-duty days and helped to create a safer and more effective operation.

The Journey Begins: With an OSHA 300 Log Recordkeeping Review

The process started with a multiday OSHA visit. The client's OSHA 300 logs showed three consecutive years of incidents on the rise, (2010-2013) specifically with over 50% of injuries being strains/backs/shoulders to direct care providers.

For example, in the prior years before the inspection, the Days Away, Restricted, and Transfer (DART) rate was 9.3, nearly twice the highest national average for nursing and residential care facilities. The year just before the inspection, the logs showed a 16.3 DART rate, three times the national average.

This OSHA 300 log and recordkeeping review set in motion a National Emphasis Program review of this facility per the OSHA Compliance Directive, CPL 03-00-016, National Emphasis Program on Nursing and Residential Care Facilities.

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