New National Emphasis Program Announced for Nursing Homes

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a new National Emphasis Program (NEP) to focus outreach efforts and inspections on specific hazards in nursing and personal care facilities with high injury and illness rates.

"Nursing and personal care facilities are a growing industry where hazards are known and effective controls are available," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "The industry also ranks among the highest in terms of injuries and illnesses, with rates about two and a half times that of all other general industries. By focusing on specific hazards associated with nursing and personal care facilities, we can help bring those rates down."

The program will focus outreach efforts and inspections primarily on hazards most prevalent in the facilities, including:

  • Ergonomics primarily related to resident handling;
  • Exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials;
  • Exposure to tuberculosis; and
  • Slips, trips and falls.

Resident handling and slips, trips and falls account for the majority of injuries suffered by nursing home workers.

The National Emphasis Program will focus OSHA's resources on those nursing and personal care facilities that have 14 or more injuries or illnesses resulting in lost work days or restricted activity for every 100 full-time workers. OSHA is planning to inspect approximately 1,000 of these facilities under the new NEP.

Last February, OSHA notified approximately 13,000 employers - including 2,500 nursing and personal care facilities - that their injury and illness rates were higher than average and suggested sources of help to lower them. OSHA will also address workplace violence in this industry through training and outreach.

Nearly 200 OSHA and Department of Labor staff, as well as others, received intensive training in nursing home hazards and issues prior to the announcement of the new NEP.

Nursing homes is one of the industries earmarked for emphasis in OSHA's strategic plan. OSHA first implemented a seven-state initiative in 1996 to address injury and illness concerns in nursing homes and personal care facilities. That initiative was absorbed into the agency's site-specific targeting inspection program until this year.

About 9,000 of the approximate 33,000 nursing homes in the United States were asked to report their 2000 injury and illness data to OSHA last year.

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