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How To Keep Employees Safe?

November 19, 2014

Healthcare workers are at risk of a number of occupational hazards during their working day, making the role of a medical organisation challenging. However, it's important that these issues are addressed in order for the hospital to ensure that they are taking all preventative measures to protect their staff.

This is not only a moral obligation, but there is also a financial incentive for healthcare organisations as they reduce the chance - and expense - of having an employee off work or even litigation should they have failed.

But how can modern hospitals ensure that each individual member of staff is protected from the various risks and hazards they are exposed to during their shift?

Encourage a safety culture
The best and most obvious way of keeping employees in all departments safe from occupational hazards is to ensure that there is a solid culture of safety throughout teams and the entire hospital itself. From an employer's perspective this includes making sure that each staff member is fully trained in areas where they may be at an increased risk of injury. One of the most important procedures is how to deal with needles and other medical sharps safely. This includes using them, preparing and disposing of the instrument, which each member of a team will need to be able to perform efficiently. This, along with other practices, should form the foundation of a new employee's introductory training period.

Conducting a risk assessment will enable a healthcare organisation to best determine which workers are at the highest risk of which hazards. This allows the focusing of resources and means that staff can be prioritised in terms of training and educational material.

By encouraging a safety culture, it is hoped that all employees will follow the correct procedure but this should be reinforced through best practice. This is especially important for new or inexperienced members of staff who will look to their superiors and team members for guidance on how to perform procedures. 

Fostering leadership
It's important that clear leaders are defined within each department, as well as specific teams. This will create a figurehead that can set the example of best practice, which will work as the required standard for the rest of the hospital. Of course, this means that all leaders - whether at a team or department level - are kept up-to-date with any changes in protocol or updates to legislation that may concern healthcare workers.

By creating leaders, whether officially in their job title or through a created position such as 'safety executive', it also gives less experienced staff a point of contact should they have any doubts about procedure, or suffer an incident that they need to report. 

Communication is key through all levels of hospital management and safety is no different. It's important that all members of staff feel comfortable in following procedures and protocol after an incident, but it's also vital that these themselves are made transparent. This will make them easy to follow and understand, minimising the risk of confusion and enabling staff to have a clear reference point for future training or independent learning.

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