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OSHA ends nursing home emphasis program
Inspections will decline this year
The heat is off of nursing homes — or at least turned down from a boil to simmer. Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) administrator John Henshaw announced that the National Emphasis Program for nursing homes has ended.
About 1,000 nursing home inspections had occurred under that program since June 2002.
Nursing homes remain a high-hazard industry that is a part of the site-specific targeting program. However, nursing homes will receive a reduced rate of inspections.
"[I]n fiscal year 2004, which began Oct. 1, we will probably inspect about 400 long-term care facilities with the highest injury and illness rates, rather than [the] 800 that might naturally rise to the top of our list," Henshaw told the American Health Care Association. He did not explain the disparity.
Union advocates were critical of the sudden shift in enforcement action against nursing homes. "There’s no basis for doing this," says Bill Borwegen, MPH, health and safety director for the Service Employees International Union.
"It’s a tragedy against some of the hardest workers in our country — who almost exclusively are women, disproportionately minority, [and] many of them single moms," he adds.
In fiscal year 2003, OSHA issued citations against more than 500 nursing homes. That included seven general duty clause citations related to ergonomics hazards. OSHA also issued 104 ergonomic alerts.