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News Release USDL: 95-452
Thursday, November 2, 1995
Contact: Susan Hall Fleming, (202) 219-8151

OSHA To Appeal Beverly Enterprises Decision

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is appealing a ruling that overturned citations OSHA issued to Beverly Enterprises in Pennsylvania for alleged hazards in five nursing homes.

An Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) administrative law judge set aside OSHA's citations that were issued under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The citations alleged that workers did not safely lift residents and safely perform other strenuous activities. The OSHRC ruling said that OSHA had not proved the existence of a hazard.

"We have extensive documentation that manual lifting represents a serious hazard in many industries," said Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Dear in announcing the agency's decision to appeal OSHRC's ruling. "The potential for back injuries among nursing personnel has been widely recognized throughout the nursing home industry for at least the last 20 years.

"While we are certain we can clearly demonstrate a recognized hazard, the questions raised in this case further point to the need for a specific standard that addresses the evaluation of ergonomic risks and points employers toward practical solutions," Dear said.

OSHA is appealing on the basis that the agency clearly showed the existence of a hazard to nursing assistants through, among other things, documented back injuries in the five nursing homes and through the testimony of expert witnesses.

OSHA issued the following citations to these five Beverly Enterprises' nursing homes:

Nursing Home Violations Proposed Penalties Citation Date
Richland Manor, Johnstown, Pa. 3 Serious
1 Other
$6375
$900
11/21/91
Meyersdale Manor, Meyersdale, Pa. 3 Serious
1 Other
$6375
$900
12/05/91
Beverly Manor of Monroeville, Monroeville, Pa. 3 Serious
1 Other
$5625
$750
3/20/92
Carpenter Care Center, Tunkhannock, Pa. 2 Serious
2 Other
$4675
$1700
1/31/92
Blue Ridge Haven Convalescent Center West 2 Serious $7,500 2/1/92

Total Proposed Penalties: $34,800

The agency inspected the five nursing homes over a 15-month period beginning in May 1991 in response to complaints that workers were suffering back injuries related to lifting and transferring residents. During the inspections, OSHA reviewed the company's injury and illness records, which revealed numerous musculoskeletal injuries sustained by nursing assistants that had resulted in extensive lost worktime and restricted work duty. Approximately two-thirds of the company's workers' compensation claims stemmed from back injuries.

OSHA found that in each facility, nursing assistants had to manually lift residents to transfer them between beds, chairs and toilets and to turn and reposition residents in beds and chairs. Company records also indicated that management at each of the Beverly Enterprises facilities was aware of the injuries.

Beverly Enterprises is one of the largest nursing home operators in the U.S. In the early 1990's the company operated approximately 820 nursing homes with approximately 90,000 beds.

With the appeal, OSHA is seeking administrative review of the case by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. A party dissatisfied with the commissioners' decision can appeal the case through the U.S. Circuit court.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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