OSHA & DART rates….the envelope please

You may have heard that OSHA is reaching out to about 15,000 workplaces with high DART rates.

DART stands for: Days Away, Restricted and Transferred

If your facility had two or more DART injuries or illnesses in 2010 (and assuming that you correctly reported them), you’re getting a letter. Sorting through the data, we found that 3,101 of those went to healthcare. Ouch, that’s right – - 20% of the entire group. With 11% of the U.S. workforce, it’s pretty clear that healthcare is generating more than its share of DARTs.

The letters (see template from OSHA below) frame this as an education issue, pointing recipients toward possible solutions including consultants, unions and workers comp and insurance carriers. For facilities with fewer than 250 employees, OSHA recommends their consultation services.

Dear_______:

Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) surveyed employers to collect workplace injury and illness data. The Agency used these data to identify the approximately 14,800 workplaces with the highest Days Away from Work, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rates; your workplace was one of those identified. This means workers in your establishment are being injured at a higher rate than in most other businesses in the country.

I am writing you to indicate my concern about the high DART rate at your establishment and to identify ways that you can obtain assistance in addressing hazards in your workplace. OSHA recognizes that your elevated DART rate does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health. Whatever the cause, a high rate is costly to your company in both personal and financial terms. In addition, you should be aware that OSHA may target up to 2,500 general industry workplaces identified in the survey for inspection in the next year.

Over the years OSHA has found that many employers lack expertise in the field of workplace safety and health and welcome assistance by experts in this field. You may wish to consider hiring an outside safety and health consultant, talking with your insurance carrier, or contacting your state’s workers’ compensation agency for advice. Your workers can help identify hazards and find solutions. In addition, if you have a union at your site, please discuss with them how to reduce hazards in your workplace.

An excellent way for employers with 250 or fewer workers to address safety and health is to ask for assistance from OSHA’s On-sight Consultation Program. This Program is administered by a state agency and operated separately from OSHA’s Enforcement Program. The service is free and confidential, and there are no fines even if problems are found. Designed for small employers, the On-sight Consultation Program can help you identify hazards and find effective and economical solutions for eliminating or controlling them. The OSHA state consultant can also assist you in developing and implementing an injury and illness prevention program, an effective way to manage safety and health at your workplace.

In your state, the OSHA consultation program may be contacted at:

Name, Project Manager
Name of Organization
Address – first line
Address – second line
Telephone number

I also encourage you to consider developing and implementing your own injury and illness prevention program as a proactive approach to find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. We know these programs can be effective at reducing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Not only do employers experience dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, but they often report a transformed workplace culture that can lead to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction. More information on injury and illness prevention programs can be found on OSHA’s home page at www.osha.gov. As it was last year, a list of all the employers receiving this letter will be available from the OSHA home page.

Sincerely,

David Michaels, PhD, MPH
Assistant Secretary

So, what are you thoughts?


UL, an ongoing leader in web-based solutions for safety and health professionals, delivers the tools needed to change behaviors, prevent injuries, and most importantly, save lives.

About Dr. Scott Harris

Dr. Scott Harris is the Director of EHS Advisory Services for UL Workplace Health & Safety, developing learning content and providing consultative services as part of thought leadership and safety culture development for UL clients. He is a member of the ASSE Oil and Gas Specialty, an advisory member of the Healthcare Practice Specialty and the AIHA Healthcare Working group, and a Course Director and Advisory Board member for the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center at UNC – Chapel Hill. A former U.S. EPA Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Scott led and participated in nationally significant response efforts including Space Shuttle Columbia, New Orleans water search and rescue during Hurricane Katrina and BP Deepwater Horizon. Dr. Harris received his PhD in Environmental Science, with a specialization in Disaster and Emergency Management, from Oklahoma State University and holds degrees in Public Health (M.S.) and Geology (B.S.) from Western Kentucky University.

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