Workshops Discuss Strategies for Workplace Safety, Emphasize Leadership Support

The MHA Keystone Center hosted virtual workshops in September focusing on two core components of the MHA Workplace Safety Collaborative.

The first workshop, Preventing Sharps Injuries, was held Sept. 15 with over 50 individuals from MHA-member organizations in attendance. Keynote speakers Tom Peterson, MD, FAAP, vice president and chief safety officer, Trinity Health, and Ken Smith, CHSP, CIE, CHCM, vice president, HealthCare Safety Services, provided critical background information on sharps injuries and emphasized critical program components, such as safety coaches and staff education.   

Participants learned strategies for deploying a sustainable sharps injury prevention program, including standardizing the equipment and disposal processes and mitigating distractions through “do not disturb” signage and calling out all exposed sharps to nearby staff members. The speakers encouraged participants to approach a program through the lens of “zero harm.”  

The sharps injuries prevention workshop concluded by asking participants to launch a sharps-injury reduction program with their colleagues following five basic standards of care:

  1. Human performance-based behavior (e.g., re-capping needles when moving).
  2. Individual safety work practice defenses (e.g., calling out to staff when there is an exposed sharp).
  3. Organizational and environmental defenses (e.g., standardizing syringes and safety devices).
  4. Safety culture (e.g., speaking up with concerns and reporting all incidents and near-misses).
  5. Continuous training and learning (e.g., sharps safety device training, debriefing all incidents and near-misses, leadership reviewing weekly sharps-injury reports).

Nearly 85 people from MHA-member organizations attended the second workshop, Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls Injuries, held Sept. 24. There are staggering costs associated with staff injuries; some miss significant time from work, and those with severe injuries may never return. Speakers discussed the “iceberg model” of direct and indirect effects of staff injuries — 20% of the consequences of an injury are visible (medical costs, increased insurance premiums, etc.) and 80% are hidden, such as increased paperwork, legal fees and project delays. Additionally, speakers taught participants how to improve situational awareness and promotional campaigns as part of a successful program.

One universal message that emerged from both events is that leadership support is critical to sustaining an employee safety program.

Recordings and slides of the events are available on the MHA Community site. Members with questions may contact the MHA Keystone Center.