Practice Tip of the Week: Commitment to Safe Workplaces
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Posted by: Nadia Tamez-Robledo
By Ellen Martin, PhD, RN, CPHQ
Director of Practice
Texas Nurses Association
Did you know that nursing has the highest rate of nonfatal workplace injuries in the US according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics? June 12-18 is designated by OSHA as Safe + Sound Week, a campaign to increase awareness and promote the value of safety and health programs to address hazards in the workplace.
Data from the American Nurses Association Health Risk Appraisal revealed that 42 percent of nurses surveyed said their lifting and repositioning heavy objects is a safety risk in their work environment. Only 51 percent use safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) for every patient lift and transfer.
The business case for safe lifting programs is compelling. Stanford University Medical Center more than doubled the return on an $800,000 investment in a SPHM program with a net savings of $2.2 million in 5 years. About half the savings came from reductions in workers’ compensation claims. An unforeseen benefit was the savings from a significant reduction in patient pressure ulcers. Any program that is safer for nurses and leads to better patient outcomes is a win-win. OSHA has a Safety and Health achievement recognition program on its website with success stories from a variety of practice settings including an outpatient surgical center and a skilled nursing facility. New technologies are under development such as robotic arms and mechanical assistants to make lifting safer in the future.
In considering all sources of healthcare worker injuries, from back pain to needle stick prevention, OSHA estimates that business will save about $5 for every $1 invested in a workplace safety and health program. Direct savings include lower insurance costs, reduced days lost from work, lower costs for job accommodations for injured workers, less money in overtime to cover for the injured workers, and reductions in direct medical expenditures. Did you know that retaliation against workers who raise safety concerns is illegal? Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under this act. For more information, visit www.whistleblowers.gov
Monday, June 12, was the first day of this month’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation 28-day Safety Challenge . Sign up today to receive the first daily actionable tip of the month to keep the nurses mindful of ways to prevent injury in the workplace and how to best incorporate SPHM standards into daily practice. Have you joined HNHN? Login and check out today’s tip!