In the industry of human and social services, many employees are working very closely with patients or clients. When it comes to consumers with injuries or disabilities, this close contact is often hands-on because staff needs to transport individuals from place to place, bed to wheelchair, etc. Of course, clients’ safety is paramount and staff should be trained in how to keep the individual safe. However, it’s just as important for staff responsible for client handling to keep themselves safe too.
Musculoskeletal injuries are common among nurses, technicians and staff responsible for client handling and transport. Despite advances in technology, manual handling of individuals is still a responsibility of staff. Many of these employees find themselves relying on their own physical strength in lieu of safer ergonomic practices. The consistent motions required for patient handling associated with transferring, lifting, transporting and repositioning clients result in injuries comparable to those in manufacturing, construction, and other physically demanding employment.
But, it’s not just the staff responsible for patient handling who are suffering. Just one on-the-job injury resulting in a workers’ compensation claim can end up costing employers hundreds of thousands of dollars over time. So, what can employers do to keep clients, staff and their budgets safer?
- Schedule Strategically
Understaffing poses a risk to clients and staff because without ample manpower, employees are left with no choice but to attempt patient handling on their own. This drastically increases the likelihood for injury. Make adequate staffing ratios a priority to ensure facilities are not short staffed.
- Regular and Varied Training
Because of changes in technology and trends, it’s important to require staff to attend periodic trainings to keep their skills sharp and learn of newer, safer techniques. It’s also valuable to offer different types of training. For example, watching safety training videos and hands-on practice with more experienced staff or experts.
- Keep the Environment Safe
To reduce the likelihood of injury, the physical environment where employees and clients are operating should be as safe as possible. This includes efforts such as keeping surfaces dry, walkways clear, and arranging equipment and furniture in a way that allow for ample space to move about.
- Encourage Proper Communication
Before, during and after a client is moved, employees should be communicating. When the client is able, employees should tell them how they will be lifting, adjusting, or moving them. This can prepare the client so that they don’t make a sudden movement to sacrifice the integrity of a transfer. Whether the client can communicate or not, if there are multiple workers making a transfer, they should communicate with one another so that everyone is on the same page.
Proactive safety training and protocol results in fewer injuries for both clients and staff. Fewer injuries means fewer workers’ compensation claims, and that can greatly impact your bottom line. Hearten is an alternative option for workers’ compensation insurance that is designed specifically for the human and social services industry. Reach out to us to learn more about safety and risk management tactics that can impact your bottom line.