OSHA Announces National Emphasis Program for Inspecting Nursing Homes and Residential Facilities

April 6, 2012

By: Michael D. Billok

On April 5, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") announced a new National Emphasis Program ("NEP") for inspecting nursing homes and residential facilities.  This is an important announcement, because for most employers, there are only a few reasons why OSHA may inspect an employer's worksite:  (1) the worksite's injury and illness rate places it within OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting program; (2) the occurrence of a work-related accident that causes a fatality or hospitalizes three or more employees; (3) a referral from another law-enforcement agency; (4) an inspector withesses a possible violation in "plain view" or from media reports; (5) an employee complaint; or (6) a follow-up from a previous inspection.

However, OSHA also has the authority to create regional and national emphasis programs for particular industries.  Using that authority, OSHA has announced that it will inspect nursing homes and residential facilities nationwide that had a Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred ("DART") rate in 2010 of 10.0 or more.  The directive implementing the NEP also states that each Area Office will inspect at least three nursing homes or residential facilities within its jurisdiction each year under this program.  Thus, nursing homes or residential facilities with a 2010 DART rate of 10.0 or more should consult with their safety personnel and legal counsel to prepare for the likelihood of an OSHA inspection.