Maintaining a safe workplace is a top priority for most businesses, not only because they value their employees and want them to remain healthy and well, but because it is required by law. Plus, the cost of failure can be extremely high, including employee days missed, medical expenses, worker’s compensation, and more.
Unfortunately, maintaining safety can be particularly challenging in the EMS field, considering employees are rarely in a controlled environment. Sure, you can make your facility as safe as possible; with policies and procedures that promote a safe and healthy work environment. You can mandate compliance with rules like keeping walkways clear of tripping hazards or cleaning up spills immediately to mitigate slip and fall risks.
However, most employees will only remain within your facility for a short time at the beginning and end of their shifts. Once they leave your property, managing their safety becomes much trickier, especially when it comes to the potential for slips, trips, and falls in the course of their work.
While you can’t control weather patterns that cause icy walkways or be there with employees in the field on every shift to spot potential safety hazards, there are certainly steps you can take to better understand potential on-the-job risks and mitigate them to prevent slips and trips.
Finding the Right Footing
Any number of circumstances could conspire to create the conditions where slips, trips, and falls occur, and many of them are beyond your control. For example, winter weather conditions could leave sidewalks, walkways, and stairs covered in ice that you certainly can’t mitigate.
What can you do? Make sure employees have proper footwear to minimize the risks of slipping and harming themselves or patients in these dangerous conditions. It’s not unusual for companies that employ people in medical professions to require non-slip footwear, as there could be liquids in the environment that spill and lead to slips.
However, if employee safety is your goal, you might consider offering some incentives like reimbursement for required footwear, along with guidelines for finding appropriate, non-slip solutions, or even purchasing preferred products for your employees. This approach allows you some control in an otherwise uncertain situation.
You could also provide winter traction devices like YakTrax or Kahtooly Nanospikes for employees. Requiring the use of this added traction in dangerously slick weather conditions helps to mitigate risks for slip and fall scenarios, and providing this useful equipment could minimize accidents and attendant costs. Having the tools available for your employees through an online resource center would make it easy for your employees to find this helpful information
Equipping for Success
Footwear isn’t the only equipment employees rely on for safety in hazardous conditions where slips, trips, and falls could occur. It’s also important to keep tabs on the tools and equipment EMS professionals use all the time, from the handles on stretchers, to the straps on equipment bags, to the brackets medical devices attach to. If these items are worn or loose, they could increase the risk of accidents, so conducting frequent equipment checks to ensure sturdiness and stability is a must.
In some cases, accidents involving slips, trips, and falls will come down to employee error. Maybe employees are rushing and not paying attention to their environment. Maybe their reaction times are slowed by fatigue. You can do a lot to mitigate risks through the policies, procedures, and equipment you provide, but offering threat management training is equally important to give employees information and agency over their own safety.
You may already offer mandatory, in-person work safety training as part of your onboarding process, but you should also consider the benefits of providing an online learning management system that allows for additional training, examples of real-life scenarios, and the opportunity to revisit the information as needed. This not only makes learning easy for employees; but allows you to track training to ensure that employees are receiving all needed instruction.
Reporting and Communication
Executive and administrative staff are responsible for creating, implementing, and enforcing safety policies, but front-line workers are the ones with insight into whether or not these measures are doing any good. It’s incumbent upon management to provide easy communication tools that encourage employees to voice concerns and make suggestions regarding potential safety issues they see every day.
By creating an atmosphere where feedback is encouraged and communication is facilitated, you have the best chance to understand potentially unsafe work conditions and make the changes necessary to mitigate the risk of slips, trips, and falls that could cost a ton in medical bills, missed work, lawsuits, and more. With the right attitude and the right tools, you can create a collaborative environment that increases safety for employees and the patient population they serve.
If you have any questions about this article or how Ninth Brain Suite can help keep your employees safe, contact Sales@ninthbrain.com and we can setup a time to chat.