To do: What do you think is more dangerous – construction work or healthcare work?
Dangerous jobs – mining, construction, law enforcement, logging. It is easy to think that the kind of work you do for Turning Point Services is not that dangerous. The truth is that healthcare employees have more job-related injuries and illnesses than most other jobs.
The “Safe at Work” training is designed just for employees at Turning Point Services. The goals of this training are to increase your ability to recognize unsafe conditions, and to show you the correct actions to take to stay safe in most situations. We want you to be “safe at work”.
At the end of this training there is a test. You must print the test and circle the correct answers, then give the test to your supervisor. Now, let’s get on with it.
Main Safety Issues
The most common safety issues you will encounter at work are:
- Back and muscle strains from lifting items and transfers (moving clients with lifting involved)
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Vehicle accidents
- Simple injuries, like cuts, scrapes, and bruises
The most common injuries at Turning Point that result in lost work time are muscle strains from (1) falls, (2) from lifting/carrying something, including client transfers, or from (3) car accidents. A separate training in Lifting and Transfers is required for all new employees
Importance of Being Safe
For an employee, the results of illness and injury might include:
- lost work time,
- medical bills that someone must pay
- lost income
- lost time for fun
- potential long-term disability.
Safety is important to the quality of work we do. Every injury or illness that affects an employee also affects many other people. Call your supervisor as soon as possible if you are injured at work or see something risky in your work settings. No punitive action will ever be taken against you for reporting unsafe or risky conditions.
When working in client homes or in the community, you can’t always control danger, but you can be aware of possible safety problems and make good decisions to stay as safe as possible. Here are some general safety tips.
- Electrical hazards – Don’t overload outlets with plugs & watch for frayed cords.
- Water/swimming – Drowning can occur in a few inches of water, never leave a client unsupervised around water, ask your Supervisor first before taking a client swimming.
- Heat & medications – Some medications do not mix well with sun and/or heat, ask about this before being outside in the sun for more than one hour with a client.
- Community Safety – Be aware of your surroundings and move away from danger.
- Personal safety – Trust your gut reactions, if something doesn’t feel right, get out of the situation.
- Hazardous chemicals – this usually means household cleaners, like bleach, but also includes gasoline, kerosene, and grill tanks. Know where these chemicals are kept in your work site and stay away from them. Keep all chemicals in original packaging
- Fires and fireplaces – Small fires become big fires, put our small fires quickly or leave the area and call for help. Fireplaces are also dangerous, so monitor clients anytime a fireplace is in use. Space heaters can cause skin burns and fires. Use of space heaters is strongly discouraged.
Slips, Trips, Fall Prevention
Falls are caused by:
- Slippery surfaces (ice, water, oil, rain)
- Changes in levels (steps, curbs, decks)
- Tripping hazards (cords, rugs, shoes, toys, sleeping dogs)
- Loss of balance (caused by poor muscle tone, carrying something heavy)
- Transfers (moving a person who needs help moving from one place to another)
Including staff and clients, about 4 people at TPS fall each month, and 3 of those 4 people have some sort of injury. We have reduced the average number of falls, but it is still very important that we work hard to prevent falls.
- Get training on lifting using the Lifting and Transfers training
- Watch for and remove things you might trip over
- Move carefully on wet or slippery floors, clean up all spills quickly
- Use handrails on stairs
- Watch for changes in levels, steps, curbs, and warn clients about the hazards
- Request a copy of the “No More Falls” pamphlet if your client has trouble getting up, takes lots of medication, is over 50, or has fallen or almost fallen recently
- Plan your work so that slips, trips, and falls won’t happen.
- Scan your work setting for potential fall hazards every day.
Back injuries and pain are one of the most common injuries in healthcare work – more common than in construction! Lifting and transferring people is a difficult task. A few techniques to use for correct lifting follow, but be sure to complete Lifting and Transfers for extra training. Research has proven that back belts do not prevent injuries – correct lifting techniques do. When ordered by the client’s doctor, gait belts have proven more effective in preventing back injuries.
Adapted from tips offered by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
You are at greatest risk for back pain and injury when you are:
- Pulling a person who is in bed into a sitting position.
- Transferring a person from one place to another, such as a bed to a chair.
- Leaning over for long periods of time.
- Lifting a heavy object using the wrong lift techniques
When you lift or move a person or heavy object:
- Assess each lift before starting. If it’s too much, get help.
- Keep your head, neck and spine in a natural line when lifting.
- Bend your knees, don’t bend at your waist when lifting,
- Don’t twist your body when lifting.
- Always keep the person or object close to your body.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart to keep your balance.
- Your legs have large muscles; use them to help you lift.
More training on back safety and correct lifting is found in the Lifting and Transfers training which is now required for every TPS employee. Ask your Supervisor about this. If you have chronic back problems/pain, please share this with your Supervisor so we can help you protect your back.
Emergency Procedures – Fire and Disaster
- Know where extinguishers are, if available.
- Be aware of all exit routes
- Know the telephone number of the location where you are working.
- Small fires become big fires. Put out small fires quickly. If you cannot extinguish a fire quickly, take these steps
- Remove yourself (and any clients) to a safe place.
- Call 911
- Call your supervisor.
- Keep calm and focus your attention on helping the client(s) stay calm.
- Keep current on potential disasters, such as bad weather & flooding.
- Know more that one route for driving to and from your work site (if possible).
- In bad weather or during cold spells, keep at least half a tank of gas in your car.
- Ask clients and client families the safest place to be in the house during dangerous weather.
- Have a family disaster plan of your own. How will you get in touch with family during a disaster? Know where you would go if your house can’t be lived in. Keep a simple disaster kit in your home.
Defensive Driving and Vehicle Emergency Instructions
Since 1992, transportation incidents have caused more on-the job deaths than any other accident.
Driving is the most dangerous thing you will do at this job. What can you do to make driving as safe as possible?
- Use seat belts at all times for adults – that means you, too.
- Use child safety seats, placed in the back seat, for kids under 80 pounds or under 8 years.
- Only active employees, after background checks, may drive clients, no one else.
- Regularly check your car’s safety – tires, wipers, brakes, & lights are most important.
- Follow your car’s recommended maintenance schedule.
- Never drive after taking any medications, prescription or over-the-counter, that might interfere with driving ability, such as muscle relaxers, pain medication, & some allergy meds.
- Do not talk on a cell phone while driving. Texting while driving is against the law.
- Immediately stop driving and pull off the road if a client needs your attention.
- Use emergency flashing lights when pulled over or disabled
- Never leave a person receiving services alone in the car.
You will need to have each of these items if you will be transporting a client. Check with your Supervisor for all these items if you don’t have them already.
- Vehicle Emergency Instruction Packet
- TPS First Aid Kit
- Consumer “Emergency Medical Information and Consent” form(s)
- Client Crisis Plan (if indicated)
When transporting a client, it is necessary to have a working cell phone. If you do not have a cell phone to use during an emergency, alert your Supervisor as soon as possible.
Driving clients should be limited to only what is necessary to meet approved goals/activities in approved service plans. You will not be covered by company insurance if transporting a client to your bank or for your own shopping needs. This means if an accident occurs and the client is injured, you and your insurance might be liable for medical payments and other charges.
Alternatives to Restraints
Sometimes people with disabilities will have difficult and confusing behavior, even dangerous behavior. Sometimes you may feel the need to control a situation physically so that a client will not be hurt. If so, remember that a physical restraint is always a last resort, never a first option.
Physical restraint is only a little less dangerous than the behavior itself, and puts you and the client at risk of injury. Many people with disabilities have also had a very traumatic event happen, such as abuse. By physically restraining someone who has had trauma, the bad experience may be re-lived, causing more trauma.
Avoid situations that cause fear or anxiety. If the person you’re working with shows signs of anxiety (pacing, talking fast, repeated movements, throwing things, hitting), try to leave where you are and find a calmer place. Say something like “see the shade over there, let’s go there.” A positive attitude and gentle methods of encouragement will work most of the time. Do not use hard words like “you need to stop that” or “we’ll have to go home”. When people feel safe, dangerous behavior is less likely to happen.
You will receive lots more training on “Alternatives to Restrictive Interventions” in the main TPS Core Competency Training, and again each year you continue as an employee.
Infectious diseases and blood borne pathogens
Universal Precautions must be used with every client. What does this mean? It means assuming that blood and other body fluids can be the source of infections, and acting accordingly. Fluids to worry about include blood and any body fluid containing blood, spinal fluid, fluid from joints, vaginal secretions, semen, and pericardial fluid. Other body fluids are not as dangerous (saliva, sputum, feces, tears, nasal secretions, vomit and urine) unless blood is visible. But, these other fluids can be sources of other infections and should be handled carefully.
- Label and handle blood, body fluids, waste, needles, & laundry as if it is infected.
- Use gloves and glasses/goggles and protective clothing when appropriate (ask your QP).
- Accept the TPS offer for a free Hepatitis B vaccination.
- Careful, regular hand washing is the most important method to avoid infections.
- Don’t spread your illnesses. Get immunizations. Many clients are more vulnerable to infections. A cold or the flu can turn into a serious illness for many of your clients.
- Create safe work sites for you and clients
- Have the consumer “medical emergency information and consent” handy at all times
- Use proper lifting methods; don’t lift anything too heavy for you.
- If driving clients, keep first aid kits, a phone, and emergency instructions in vehicle
- Be ready to discuss allergies and medical conditions (yours and clients)
- Practice routines for emergency drills
- Use Universal Precautions at all times whenever body fluids are involved
- Wash your hands regularly
- Drive carefully without distractions
- Speak with your SUPERVISOR or another TPS staff person about any safety concerns you have
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