Benedictine Living Community of Wahpeton Earns OSHA SHARP Designation


Company: Benedictine Living Community of Wahpeton, St. Catherine’s Living Center
Location: , North Dakota
NAICS Code: 623110 - Nursing Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities)
Employees: 133
SHARP Flag

Left to Right— Front Row: Terry Hasbargen (Wellness Assistant), Jerry Trupka (Risk Management/Safety Director), Stephanie Kubacki Administrative Assistant)
Left to Right — Back Row: Sandy Youngquist (Culinary Manager), Jim Harty (Environmental Director), Jim Cornelius (Administrator), Deb Reynolds (Social Services)

Benedictine Living Community of Wahpeton (BLCW) is a long-term health care campus encompassing skilled nursing care, home health care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, basic care, independent living, and assisted living services.  Multiple departments play an essential role in providing healthcare service to the residents.  These departments include nursing, therapy, culinary, home health, environmental, plant operations, activities, social services, and administration. They are affiliated with the non-profit Benedictine Health System. The Wahpeton campus is divided between two facilities: St. Catherine’s Living Center and Siena Court.  St. Catherine’s (skilled nursing facility) opened its doors back in 1958, and Siena Court (assisted living and basic care) opened in 2012.  “We changed our name to Benedictine Living Community of Wahpeton in 2017,” said Risk Management/Safety Director Jerry Trupka.

Benedictine learned about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), On-Site Consultation Program, at the North Dakota Long Term Care Conference. This 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, such as the North Dakota Consultation Services & Assistance 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.

Benedictine’s is always looking for ways to keep its residents and workers safe, so they reached out to North Dakota Consultation Services & Assistance and requested a survey of their existing workplace safety and health programs and practices.  An on-site visit was conducted on October 20, 2011, by the North Dakota OSHA Consultation Program at Bismarck State College.  During the facility walkthrough, the consultant identified one labeling hazard, which was corrected immediately.  On-site education was implemented, and annual and new employee training was completed.  Benedictine places safety in the “Top Priority” category.  The Wahpeton campus has a safety team, represented by all departments.  This team meets monthly to discuss and review safety concerns, action item status, and successes within the campus and daily routines.  During the annual “Safety Week,” outside vendors assist with safety education.  Events throughout this week include an employee safety picnic, trivia, demonstrations, and safety education. 

“The OSHA Consultation Program has been extremely helpful in providing the tools and education to assist our campus with a strong and effective safety program for our residents, staff, families, and all who walk through our doors,” said Trupka, “Safety Matters.”

After the initial consultation visit, the company took an even bigger step on their safety journey. The St. Catherine’s Living Center decided to participate in the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).  This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health program. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles a company out among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

To earn the OSHA SHARP designation, companies must have injury and illness rates below the national average. Improving adherence with OSHA safety standards and updating company safety policies and procedures positively affected BLCW’s injury and illness rates. From 2014 through 2018, St. Catherine’s Living Center’s average total recordable case (TRC) rate was 2.84; and the average days away, restricted, and/or transfer (DART) rate was 1.46. In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national industry average TRC rate was 6.4, and the national average DART rate was 4.0 for North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 623110. Since 2018, TRC and DART rates were zero; to date, this campus has gone 624 days without a recordable injury. “St. Catherine’s Living Center SHARP status has been renewed twice, and we are working on a third renewal in 2020,” said Trupka.

On-Site Consultation and SHARP are voluntary programs. To locate the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov/consultation.

Source: Jerry Trupka, BLCW Risk Management Director/Safety Director