Trinity's Journey Changing and Growing into a Culture of Safety
Company: United Church Homes (dba Trinity Community)
Location: Beavercreek, Ohio
NAICS Code: 623110
SHARP flag on display in the Trinity Community hallway of the long-term care facility (Tony Vaughan pictured).
The Trinity Community story is one of a nursing home whose safety and health program grew and developed over time. "We thought we were good before inviting an Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC), OSHA On-Site Consultation Program consultant in for free assistance, but it did not take long to see there was room for improvement," said Kathleen Wojcehowicz, RN, Safety Manager, Trinity Community of Beavercreek.
The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.
"Being in health care, our staff looked at the obvious: bloodborne pathogens, infection control, and ergonomic injuries," continued Wojcehowicz. "While we were successful in those areas, we did not easily see some other problems. The majority of our recordable injuries involved slips, trips and falls. A solution as simple as making non-skid shoes mandatory improved our Days Away from Work, Job Transfer and Restriction (DART) score immensely."
"We were far less proactive in dealing with environmental and maintenance issues," she explained. Although state surveyors did environmental rounds to look at things like fire and tornado drills, fire extinguishers and generators, they did not look at noise control, lockout/tagout, and employee safety in general. "We had always done well with the state surveyors, so getting a list of hazards to correct from our OSHA On-Site consultant was surprising for us," said Wojcehowicz.
"At the time, we had a maintenance director who stored almost everything," continued Wojcehowicz. "After all, you never know when you might need some extra wire, piping, doors, screens, or toilets. Whatever might be needed to build a whole new building was once stockpiled in our basement. It took all of the managers and maintenance (and three dumpsters) to clean out the basement and turn it into the respectable area it is today. We no longer store items that may be of use sometime during the next millennium," she said.
Safety committee members in front of the safety bulletin board (Nora Penn and Jennifer Wilson, pictured).
Trinity's Safety Committee is a highly functional and proactive group. Some of its accomplishments include discussing new policies and procedures, developing an Employee Safety Handbook, holding the annual Safety Fair, doing safety rounds and following up on problem areas, reviewing all near misses and incidents, and conducting ongoing safety education activities. During near miss and incident review, the Safety Team looks at processes and makes recommendations to prevent future occurrences and injuries to employees.
Safety education starts the day of orientation and is an ongoing process throughout the year. Trinity's in-house safety team puts on a huge Safety Fair each year. Team members provide education in all safety-related areas and facilitate opportunities for questions and answers. Trinity also provides demonstrations in appropriate areas (e.g., use of fire extinguishers). It also quizzes employees regularly to evaluate training effectiveness. Department leaders conduct safety training at every monthly meeting. They gear the training to changes in policy, issues employees may have reported or noticed, and new chemical education. Finally, department leaders spend time each day in their respective departments to ensure staffers are following policies and procedures.
"Ohio BWC OSHA On-Site Consultation consultants helped us to incorporate OSHA strategies for building employee participation and hazard recognition," said Wojcehowicz. "Through constant work and growth, the staff has gone from an attitude of doing things to get them done to an ongoing awareness of how to get things done safely."
These workplace safety efforts were rewarded when the Beavercreek, Ohio, facility was designated as an OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) worksite in August 2010. The facility has continuously maintained this status. SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used the OSHA no-cost and confidential On-Site Consultation Program's services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA is an achievement that identifies a facility as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.
To participate in SHARP, a company's injury and illness rates must be lower than the national average for its industry. Trinity's Total Recordable Case (TRC) rate was 4.1 in 2013; in 2014, the rate was 3.9; in 2015, it was 6.4; and in 2016, it was 2.74. Their DART rate was 2.9 in 2013; in 2014, the rate was 2.0; in 2015, it was 5.1; and in 2016, it was 2.1. In comparison, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national average TRC rate for this industry was 7.15, and the average DART rate was 4.63 during this period.
"We appreciate the advantages of having fewer injuries and illnesses since working with the OSHA On-Site Consultation consultants and achieving SHARP," said Wojcehowicz. "Reducing employee injuries and illnesses has had a positive impact on lowering Workers Compensation Insurance rates, enhancing everyone's morale, and improving employee retention rates."
"Trinity's management believes the organization's growth in safety is like a garden. It started with OSHA On-Site Consultation consultants planting the initial seeds of change," continued Wojcehowicz. "Over time, with the nurturing of the Safety Team and Administrator, Trinity's employees have bloomed into beautiful flowers that embrace a culture of safety."
To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov/consultation.
Sources: Kathleen Wojcehowicz RN, Safety Manager, Trinity Community of Beavercreek Keith Bullock, M.A. CSP Safety Consultant, Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, On-Site Consultation Program