Improve Workplace Safety With These 4 Tips

LHA Workers' Compensation Trust Fund members received Workplace Safety Benchmarking reports. The reports depicted results from annual Workplace Safety risk assessments and compared each organization against the other members of the Workers’ Comp Trust Fund who also participated in the process. The purpose of these reports was to provide members with a comparative analysis and a method of tracking performance improvement in workplace safety from year to year.

Overall, when we looked at the results of the Workplace Safety Risk Assessments, some items stood out as the most challenging. If you would like to improve your organization's workplace safety performance, these are some of the areas you should focus on.

1. Conduct regular ergonomics assessments.

Ergonomics is the process of coordinating a workspace to fit the workers.

OSHA states, “When there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the worker, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can result. Employees who work in an office setting are prone to these types of injuries. Conducting regular ergonomics assessments is a proactive strategy to reduce injuries related to worker-workplace mismatch.

2. Implement a slip-resistant footwear requirement for high-risk areas.

Staff in Environmental and Nutritional Services Departments are among those at the highest risk for slip/trip/fall injuries. These types of injuries are some of the most common workplace injuries. Requiring staff to wear slip-resistant footwear can significantly reduce slip/trip/fall injuries.

Slip-resistant footwear has more surface area to grip the floor firmly and prevent slip/trip/falls. This type of footwear is especially important in areas where employees often come in contact with wet or slippery surfaces during their workday.

Safe Disposal of Sharps

3. Ensure sharps containers are properly placed and used safely.

According to NIOSH, sharps containers should be 52-56" from the floor if they are hung on a wall. If they sit on the countertop, they should be 38-42" from the floor. Ensure the maintenance staff are aware of this specification when installing the sharps containers in hospitals and clinics.

Additionally, staff should be trained upon hire and annually on Sharps and Needlestick Prevention. Needle/Sharps injuries tend to occur more in the healthcare system, and these injuries can have significant consequences for the person who is injured.

Organizations should conduct an evaluation of the types of sharp objects/instruments used throughout the facility and consider alternatives or safer options for reducing injuries associated with the use of such objects.

To ensure compliance with a Needlestick Prevention policy, regular observations should be done during risk or infection prevention rounds to ensure employees understand and practice ways of preventing needlestick injuries.

The LHA Trust Funds offers many resources to help support organizational efforts to reduce needlestick injuries. These include our Sharp/Needlestick Toolkit and on-site staff education by one of our Senior Risk Consultants.

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4. Train new hires and current staff on safe patient handling and mobility.

Some of the most severe and common workplace injuries in the healthcare environment are related to staff manually moving, transferring, turning, and boosting patients. These types of injuries can be devastating to the clinical workforce both physically and emotionally. They can also be career-ending and result in chronic injuries, pain, and significant lost time. The best way to reduce these types of injuries is to implement a safe patient handling and mobility program. A key component of the program is to train new hires and conduct annual training on how to perform these maneuvers confidently and expertly.

Educating staff members on your SPHM program, supportive policies, and the use of equipment is very important. Not only does the incorporation of regular SPHM into your education plan provide valuable knowledge on how to safely mobilize patients, it also serves as a constant reminder to the staff, so they don't forget.

SPHM training ensures organizational standards are met and supports cultural change around mobility. Training should be included after implementation of the new SPHM program, into new hire orientation, annually through skills fairs, unit competency assessments, and anytime new equipment is delivered to the department.

The LHA Workers' Compensation Trust Fund kicked off a Quality Initiative to encourage members to develop these programs in their organizations. Participating organizations received a risk assessment of the current state of patient handling and mobility in their organizations, customized gap analysis reports, information on program measurement, equipment education, and financial assistance in purchasing equipment. We are continuing our commitment to pursuing safe patient and mobility programs in member organizations through education and one-on-one consulting.

Need A Risk Assessment?

LHA Trust Funds offers an on-site risk assessment for members upon request.

Please call Vice President of Patient Safety and Risk, Stacie Jenkins at 225.368.3823 or email to schedule yours today.

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About The Author

Stacie Jenkins, RN, MSN, CPSO
Vice President of Patient Safety and Risk, LHA Trust Funds

Stacie Jenkins is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in nursing informatics. She has more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare, working in patient care and quality/performance improvement positions. As director of quality and patient safety for the LHA Trust Funds, she works closely with hospital administrators, risk managers and nursing staff to improve patient safety and establish best practices. She conducts on-site assessments and gives presentations designed to help clients address their patient safety risk management challenges.

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