Delaware and Maryland OSHA On-Site Consultation Programs Contribute to Campaign to Keep Veterinary Service Workers Safe

On-Site Consultation programs in Delaware and Maryland are playing a key role in an outreach campaign by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Region III to improve the safety and health of veterinary service workers. As a result of the Consultation programs’ participation, almost 100 serious safety and health hazards have been corrected at veterinary service businesses and more than 1,300 workers have been removed from exposure to those hazards.

In November 2018, OSHA Region III received a notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the need to improve the safety and wellness culture in veterinary service clinics. The notice stated that the veterinary services industry has one of the highest rates of nonfatal injuries to workers, even higher than many industries traditionally considered dangerous. According to the 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey, businesses in the veterinary services industry had 9.8 serious injuries per 100 workers, four times higher than the national average. These injuries frequently occur from handling animals, ergonomic hazards, and exposure to biological, chemical, and radiological hazards. In response to this information, OSHA Region III began an outreach campaign in January 2019 to raise awareness of these hazards and assist veterinary service facilities in implementing effective processes to prevent injuries. This campaign focuses on sharing resources with employers and employees, such as the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s Veterinary Safety and Health website, providing outreach and education, and encouraging the industry’s small businesses to use the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program’s no-cost services to help identify, evaluate, and correct workplace hazards.

The Consultation programs in Delaware and Maryland led the effort, sending out letters to many veterinary service employers in their states. The campaign has already had positive results. In the two years before the outreach campaign, Delaware and Maryland received a total of two requests for Consultation visits from the veterinary service industry. In just the first year of the campaign, over 40 Consultation visits were requested and performed in veterinary service facilities in these states.

In 2019, Consultation programs in OSHA Region III helped small veterinary service businesses identify and correct many hazards, including four regulatory hazards, 96 serious hazards (i.e., hazards that could cause death or serious injury), and 101 other hazards. In the first year of the campaign, 1,360 veterinary service workers were removed from exposure to serious hazards. Overall, 3,240 employees were removed from all hazards identified by consultants.

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. Consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards and how to fix them, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, train and educate, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.