Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Worker Safety in Hospitals website.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has introduced a suite of online resources to support hospitals in fostering a safer workplace for employees and patients. The extensive materials include fact books, self-assessments and best-practice guides designed to help hospitals prevent worker injuries and illness, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling and implement safety and health management systems. “These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. In a teleconference held on Jan. 15, Dr. Michaels was joined by Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Dr. Lucian Leape, chairman of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation; and Dr. Erin S. DuPree, chief medical officer and vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

Every morning at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, staff from each department gather together in a conference room to begin the day the way they always do – by talking about workplace safety.  One staff member is designated the new “safety officer of the day,” and the agenda includes, as always, a review of recent safety inci­dents and concerns. As Health Director Alison Muth explains, “Starting the day without these meetings would be like pulling out of the driveway without your seatbelt on.”  What a unique idea – starting each day with a safety meeting.

It’s no coincidence that Cincinnati Children’s is generally acknowledged as one of the very best pediatric hospitals in the country. Both the current and previous CEOs have run non-health care companies and recognize the value of a safe workplace – to workers, to customers and to the bottom line.  There are many other hospitals across the country that do it right. There are even 14 hospitals – such as University Medical Center at Brackenridge in Austin, Texas, and Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., who participate in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs, an elite group of companies whose proactive approach to injury and illness prevention have resulted in dramatic decreases in workplace injuries, accompanied by a transformed workplace culture that leads to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs and greater employee satisfaction.

It’s important for all hospitals to follow suit. In 2012, U.S. hospitals recorded 248,100 work-related injuries and illnesses, nearly 58,000 of which caused employees to miss work. The good news is that injuries and illnesses can be prevented.

Hospitals have seen an unusual amount of flu this season, with many resulting in pneumonia, and even death.  Hospital employees are the first ones to be exposed to many illnesses, and are given preventive vaccines  to help them stay well.  By using face masks, gloves, and other protective clothing to combat the spread of germs, workers try to remain healthy.  Washing hands is important to healthcare givers and anyone else who has touched the surfaces or door knobs, pens, or anything else that a sick person has been in contact with.

The mission of all hospitals is to give the best patient care possible.  Handling patients in a safe way, having fall prevention on their beds (bed alarms), and monitoring them often is very important.  That is why holding daily safety meetings with department staff makes sense.  Their employees may report any incidents to them in order that they discuss this in the meetings and together come up with better solutions.

Nurses, aides, and other hospital employees that help patients to their wheelchairs or bathroom, should use a lift if the patient is too heavy, in order that the caregiver not be injured.  There are many ways that hospital employees must stay as healthy as possible;  management should ensure that they do.  Personal protective equipment is a big part of hospital attire. Lab coats, shoe covers, face shields, examination gloves, hair covers, surgical gowns, and other clothing you  see hospital personnel wearing is considered personal protective equipment.

Anyone connected with a hospital should check out this informative website. 

Source: Department of Labor