A Long-Standing Proactive Approach to Safety and Health in Healthcare

Company: Community Healthcare System – Onaga Home Health

Location: Onaga, Kansas

NAICS Code: 622110, General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

Number of employees: 190 at Onaga location; over 450 in all locations

From left: Kayla Jones, RN; Mollie Hiltibrand, RN; and Kay Lyn Mueting, RN and surgery manager, demonstrate proper PPE attire for surgery during the pandemic

From left: Kayla Jones, RN; Mollie Hiltibrand, RN; and Kay Lyn Mueting, RN and surgery manager, demonstrate proper PPE attire for surgery during the pandemic

Community HealthCare System (CHCS) is a nonprofit healthcare system that provides care to the rural communities of northeast Kansas. CHCS’s Community Hospital Onaga had an interest in identifying, standardizing, and continuously improving safety processes that would provide a safe work environment for employees, patients, residents, and guests. CHCS originally learned of the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program while researching ways to enhance workplace safety on the OSHA website. In 2000, the hospital had its first visit by the On-Site Consultation program in the Kansas Department of Labor.

After its initial visits, the hospital corrected all hazards found and worked to continuously improve its safety and health programs. The hospital achieved Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) recognition in December 2002 and is one of two hospitals in the SHARP program in Kansas. Since 2002, the hospital has had eight renewals, with the most recent being June 2021. Of its 13 locations, CHCS has 11 currently in SHARP.

SHARP acknowledges small and medium-sized businesses that have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary workplace safety and health programs. Small businesses that achieve SHARP status receive a deferral from OSHA or the State Plan programmed inspections for the period that the SHARP designation is valid. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP is an achievement that identifies the employer as a model for occupational safety and health among its business peers.

Safety is the top priority for Community Hospital Onaga. It has maintained rates below the industry averages for both the total recordable case (TRC) rate and the days away, restricted, and/or transfer (DART) rate. As a result, workers' compensations costs have also remained low. When COVID-19 hit, the hospital quickly implemented a COVID-19 plan to protect its employees and clients.

"Our safety and health program encourages organizational anticipatory critical thinking, engineering out accidents before they happen, and conducting root cause analysis to fix problems. All of that has been useful as we have navigated COVID-19 and worked to ensure that we keep our staff and patients safe," said Michael Bomberger, Director of Business Development and Special Projects.

Companies interested in SHARP can contact their local OSHA On-Site Consultation program to discuss details and schedule an on-site safety and health evaluation. To locate the On-Site Consultation program nearest you, call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or visit www.osha.gov/consultation.