One of the leading causes of workplace injury in just about any industry is slips, trips, and falls (STF) on flat surfaces. The risk is even greater in the healthcare industry; incident rates are 90% higher in this industry than in all other private industries combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national census of nonfatal injuries. For home healthcare organizations, it’s important to look at how Healthcare Safety Education and Training is being managed to help eliminate the possibility of a worker becoming involved in a slip, trip, or fall injury.
Floor safety management plans should include comprehensive documents that identify problem areas as well as procedures to reduce exposure to slip, trip, and fall injuries. According to a 2010 report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), implementing a comprehensive STF prevention program could reduce workers’ compensation claims by 59%.
Planning and prevention starts with identifying hazards. Home healthcare settings are prime places for trip injuries in particular. Loose cords, wires, crowded work spaces, and standard home risks such as pets, stray objects, etc. all present significant exposures. Safety managers must also examine the outdoor setting of the home that their employees are going to for care visits. Is the area exposed to inclement weather conditions such as ice and snow? Are there uneven sidewalks or deep cracks that cause outdoor surfaces to be unsafe?
It’s not always possible for one designated safety manager to be aware of all the hazards that exist for STF accidents in the home healthcare industry. This is why it’s important to have multiple personnel involved in planning a prevention strategy; from nursing and risk management supervisors that do in-home assessments before employees are assigned, to insurance advisors, the entire staff plays an integral role in identifying problems areas that may not have been noticed during an initial walkthrough by a safety manager.
One of the leading causes of slippery floors is ineffective care and maintenance. Improper cleaning could cause problems, and even cleaning too much or using the wrong type or amount of cleaner could also create hazards. When training staff on how to maintain attentiveness the following points should be addressed:
- Keep all walkways clean and clear
- Clean up spills promptly and pick up trip exposures from the floor
- Use stairs and stepstools carefully
- Walk slowly, watch where you are going, and wear proper foot attire
- Don’t carry equipment or loads that block your vision
- When tending to a patient ensure there are no entanglement hazards present
The end goal with a STF training program is to ultimately avoid these types of injuries, or at least minimize injuries if a fall occurs. Of course, not all accidents are avoidable, which is why it’s imperative that all home healthcare organizations invest in a robust Workers’ Compensation program.
At Manchester Specialty Programs, we have multiple avenues available to us to secure Workers’ Compensation coverage for home health care providers, personal care and support services, Visiting Nurse Associations (VNAs), hospices, and medical staffing firms. We understand that losses are often inevitable in this industry, and take more than just a standard policy; we also offer tools and strategies through our carriers for these industry segments to help gain control over ongoing costs and rising premiums.