Good Shepherd Nursing Home, Inc. Dramatically Reduces Injury Rates with Assistance from OSHA On-site Consultation

Company: Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC

Location: Wheeling, West Virginia

Employees: 240 full time and part time employees

Success Brief:

In order to lower its high injury and illness rates, Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC (Good Shepherd) began working with the West Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Program's On-site Consultation Program in 1997. As a result of the assistance the facility received, the site improved its safety and health performance and became the first health care facility and only the fourth business in West Virginia to achieve recognition in OSHA's Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) on August 19, 2000.

Company Description:

Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC is a non-profit skilled nursing facility in Wheeling, West Virginia that provides quality care in a homelike environment to 192 residents (NAICS 623110, Nursing Care Facilities).

The Situation:

Established in December 1970 to provide long-term care services to aged residents of the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and contiguous counties in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, Good Shepherd opened with sixteen residents. Through a series of expansions Good Shepherd has grown to its present capacity of 192 residents, making it the largest non-profit nursing home in West Virginia, and the state's second largest nursing home overall.

Donald Kirsch, Administrator, Good Shepherd states, "Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC is a close group of employees. The average years of service are nine years for staff, and 18 years for administrative staff. The staff at Good Shepherd has a culture of acceptance and understanding; the trust and respect that they have for each other was the driving force in making Good Shepherd Nursing Home a safe place and reduce the high rate of injuries and illnesses."

During this period of expansion, however, injury and illness rates at the facility increased. While Good Shepherd had not received any employee complaints or been inspected by OSHA, the company desired to have a quality safety and health management program in place. In January 1998, embarrassed that the residents were receiving good care, but personnel were not, Good Shepherd contacted Jennifer Burgess, Director of Safety Section, West Virginia Department of Labor, OSHA's On-site Consultation Program, to identify ways to decrease the high rate of injuries and illness. In February 1998, an initial visit from West Virginia On-site Consultation was conducted. Ms. Burgess recommended Good Shepherd review the injury and illness trends in order to identify hazards, review policy and procedures and proposed equipment purchases with the goal of mitigating or eliminating hazards related to lower back injuries.

The Solution:

Good Shepherd developed a Safety Committee to analyze the injury/incident report and zeroed in on the problem area. Heavy lifting was causing many of the facilities injuries; staff members were injuring their lower backs from lifting patients that were not able to assist in rising from the bed. Upon admission, residents are evaluated by a physician to determine the level of assistance needed, if unable to assist the staff members, the facility obtains a physician order to purchase a mechanical lifting device. These mechanical devices assist staff members in moving residents from their beds to chairs, nearly eliminating all lower back injuries. Staff members are trained on the proper use of the lifting device and must demonstrate for the trainer that they can operate the lifting device safely and without injury according to the manufacturers' recommendation and guidelines established by Good Shepherd. Staff members are required to complete an annual review of the mechanical devices to ensure safety procedures are being followed. Good Shepherd's Safety Committee simultaneously purchased the mechanical lifts and implemented a comprehensive safety program comprised of key the elements: management; leadership; employee participation; safety and health training; workplace analysis; and hazard prevention and control. The implementation of this safety and health management program in conjunction with the use of mechanical lifts resulted in a 62 percent decrease in work related injuries in 1998. This put the company on the road to becoming SHARP.

The Safety Committee formed in 1997, continues to meet monthly to review injury and illness trends for which corrective action is needed. The Safety Committee has authority to take corrective action including approval to expend facility funds to correct potential hazards. The Safety Committee also conducts facility walkthroughs in areas they are not accustomed; this allows for fresh eyes to identify numerous potential hazards and correct them before they result in an employee injury. The philosophy of the safety committee is simple: "The greatest gift that we as staff members can give to each other is the gift of a safe work environment."

The Impact:

Since contacting the West Virginia On-site Consultation Program in 1997, Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC created a safety committee, had a decrease in injury and illness rate, and realized a savings in workers compensation premiums. After becoming a SHARP company in 2000, Good Shepherd received the SHARP certification again in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2010. The recertification inspection was completed on January 17, 2012; approval is pending. Good Shepherd also noticed less staff turnover which creates a more efficient, highly skilled, and competent workforce. Consistent staffing results in a highly efficient and highly skilled workforce that makes fewer mistakes, reduces exposure to liability and keeps premiums low. Donald Kirsch, Good Shepherd's Administrator stated, "With the help of OSHA and the West Virginia Safety On-site Consultation Service, our work related injuries dropped so much that between 1999 and 2010, Good Shepherd's workers compensation rate declined, and workers' compensation insurance premiums have reduced by a total of $1,966,707." Prior to working with West Virginia On-site Consultation, Good Shepherd had an injury and illness rate of 31.0; this was approximately six times the industry rate of 5.7. After working with West Virginia On-site Consultation the last 12 years, the injury and illness rate decreased to 2.1 in 2012; well below the industry standard of 5.7.

"Achieving SHARP has created a sense of accomplishment and purpose among the staff. I wish to thank the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for allocating funds to the states to administer the On-site Consultation Program," said Mr. Kirsch.

Chart 2 - Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC - Reduction in Workers' Compensation Premiums
Chart 2 - Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC - Reduction in Workers' Compensation Premiums

(Click for text version)

Chart 1 - Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC - Workers' Compensation Rate Decrease
Chart 1 - Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC - Workers' Compensation Rate Decrease

(Click for text version)


Donald R. Kirsch, Administrator Good Shepherd Nursing Home LC