Dozens of Capital Region businesses have made the federal government’s annual list of companies whose injury and illness rates are considerably higher than the national average.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week sent letters to 15,000 businesses nationwide on the list.
Local companies on the list include the Price Chopper warehouse in Rotterdam, Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. in Canajoharie, Mount Loretto Nursing Home in Amsterdam, Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse sites in Albany, Amsterdam and Schenectady; Stewart’s Shops, Walmart in Johnstown, Pioneer Window Manufacturers in Johnstown, Fiber Glass Industries in Amsterdam, Cranesville Block Co. in Amsterdam, Ogden Newspapers in Gloversville, Kingsway Arms Nursing Center in Schenectady, Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation in Scotia and Adirondack Beverages Corp. in Scotia.
According to OSHA, the 15,000 companies had 4.5 or more injuries or illnesses for every 100 full-time workers. The national average is 2 per 100.
Diana Petterson, an OSHA spokeswoman, said the federal government sends out the letters annually, compiling the list based on employer-reported data from a 2009 survey of about 100,000 work sites. The survey collected injury and illness data for calendar year 2008.
Tom Mailey of Stewart’s Shops said the company’s “Days Away from work, Restricted work or job Transfer injury and illness,” or DART rate, was 6.1 in 2008. He said the company cut the rate to 3.9 in 2009.
“We are aggressive about reporting all accidents, or reporting anyone who has a complaint and sees the doctor and is put on light duty,” Mailey said by way of explaining the company’s above-average rate for 2008.
Stewart’s also uses a consultation service to perform facility and compliance audits annually. “We use that to ensure we have as safe a place as possible for our staff,” he said.
Kingsway Administrator Mark Olsen said the OSHA letter helps the nursing home improve its safety standards. “We discuss it at our safety meetings and we try to make changes,” he said.
Olsen said Kingsway’s 2008 rate was 6.07, which he called consistent with the nursing home industry rate. “We provide hands-on care to residents. We also provide our staff with latest in equipment and training to ensure they have all the tools they need to provide the best care possible,” he said.
Kingsway has a “very good safety program that helps us identify and engineer out any potential safety hazards,” Olsen said.
Petterson said the letters are a proactive tool to raise awareness among establishments experiencing high illness and accident rates. “The purpose of the letter is strictly informational and to recommend some form of safety and health consultation,” she said.
The OSHA letter states the targeted company’s DART rate “does not necessarily indicate a lack of interest in safety and health.” OSHA also advises the company to consider hiring an outside safety and health consultant, talking with its insurance carrier, or contacting its state’s workers’ compensation agency for advice.
OSHA said that it may target up to 4,500 of the 15,000 companies for inspection in the next year. It can then levy fines for violations it finds.
Other businesses in the area on the list are: Wesley Health Care Center, Saratoga Springs; Taft Furniture Warehouse and Showroom, Colonie; McLane Company, Guilderland Center; Portola Packaging, Clifton Park; DMN Management Services, Schenectady; United States Postal Service general delivery center, Albany; Scarano Boat Building, Albany; Tougher Industries Enterprise, Albany; Con-way Freight, Albany; Simmons Machine Tool Corp., Albany; Environment One Corp., Niskayuna; Logistics One Transport, Saratoga Springs; Fownes Brothers, Amsterdam; Kasson & Keller, Fonda; Old Dominion Freight Line, Albany; Stilsing Electric, Rensselaer; St. Margaret’s House and Hospital for Babies, Albany; Finkle Distributors, Johnstown; Keymark Corp., Fonda; Crisafulli Brothers Plumbing, Albany; Adirondack Cabling, Albany; Coca-Cola Enterprises, Albany; Euphrates, Johnstown; Daughters of Sarah Nursing Home, Albany; Distribution Unlimited, Rotterdam; George Weston Bakeries, Albany; and Troy Ambulance Service, Cohoes.