With an increasing incidence of violence/threats to staff safety in the healthcare industry, a lot of facilities are looking into implementing increased protection measures. A recent example that drew attention is that of the Cox Medical Center in Missouri, where the incidence of violence against healthcare staff tripled in the last year. Total assaults rose from 40 to 123 and total injuries rose from 17 to a whopping 78 according to hospital data. Cox Medical Center decided to curb this issue by installing panic button solutions to protect their staff from this increased threat of violence.
We previously wrote about common threats and safety hazards in the healthcare industry and safety tips for healthcare facilities. In this blog post, we want to examine what a culture of safety might look like in the healthcare vertical, as advised by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other prominent organizations.
Establishing a Culture of Safety: A Brief Overview
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of injury and illness that result in days taken off is higher in the healthcare sector than in construction and manufacturing, two sectors that are commonly considered to be more hazardous work environments than most.
When a staff member is injured on the job, hospitals and facilities are the ones to bear the cost. They may include lost wages, medical costs, temporary staffing, overtime pay, turnover costs and decreased morale and productivity in the workplace.
We detail the financial repercussions of this in our staff safety ROI calculator which you can use to gauge what your expenses might add up to. Further, threats to staff safety inevitably affect how patient care is delivered at facilities, potentially leading to further liability risks if mistakes occur.
OSHA Recommends: Staff Safety and Health Management Systems
A proactive and comprehensive staff safety and health management system can go a long way in improving working conditions in healthcare facilities.
You can find a comprehensive step-by-step guide created by OSHA here that details how businesses can prevent injuries, improve compliance, reduce costs associated with staff injuries, enhance their social responsibility goals and increase overall staff productivity.
Safe Patient Handling
Patient interactions can be a major factor in influencing staff safety and injury/illness rates. In 2013, it was found that 34% hospital staff injuries nationwide resulted from patient interactions. OSHA has built several tools to assess and implement safe patient handling mechanisms such as this one that outlines effective systems as well as costs associated with them.
Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare
There are many factors that contribute to the risk that healthcare staff experience in the workplace, such as working with people who might have a history of violence, may be under the influence, have a mental illness, or experiencing a temporary altered state as they recover from a serious injury.
Between 2002 to 2013, research showed that the rate of serious workplace violence that resulted in days off for injured workers to recover was four times greater on average in the healthcare industry than any private industry.
One effective way to track and reduce this great incidence of violence in the workplace is by installing a comprehensive staff safety solution such as wearable panic buttons or duress devices.