Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
British Columbia has established a new association to reduce worker injuries in the province’s long-term care sector.
SafeCare BC was launched in Vancouver in February 2014 as a joint project by WorkSafeBC and the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA). The non-profit, industry-funded initiative focuses on mitigating the severity and frequency of injuries in the long-term care industry. It will also provide education and information on workplace health and safety and cost-effective training in injury prevention.
“The long-term goal is to see a decrease in the injury rates in British Columbia among long-term care workers,” Jennifer Lyle, SafeCare BC executive director, says from Vancouver.
While she notes that the industry does not have the type of severe injuries such as those reported in the forestry, construction or manufacturing sectors, “what we are seeing is an extremely high volume. And that has big implications for everything, from the financial operations of a facility right through to the quality of life for the staff, and then also to the quality of patient care received.” Lyle says the founding of SafeCare has been in the works for years.
Stephen Symon, public sector manager of industry and labour services for WorkSafeBC in Richmond, says the annual rate in British Columbia’s long-term care is more than four times higher than the average annual injury rate for all sectors. “So, it is considered an at-risk group,” he adds.
Symon reports that more than half of time-loss claims for injuries in the long-term care sector are due to overexertion. Violent acts account for 11 per cent of time-lost claims for injuries in long-term care, while falls on the same elevation account for 10 per cent. “They also have significant exposure to infectious agents,” Symon adds.
WorkSafeBC and the BCCPA modelled SafeCare BC after a similar association in Alberta, the Alberta Healthcare Industry Health and Safety Initiative, which is credited with reducing the province’s injury claims in the continuing care sector by one-fifth since 2005. The Alberta initiative has also decreased long-term disability claims by more than a quarter and back injury claims by 36 per cent in the same industry over the past nine years, WorkSafeBC notes.
The personal support worker (PSW), has one of the most physically demanding jobs in any province and in any sector. I was very happy to hear that the province of British Columbia has seen fit to deal with the increase in healthcare safety concerns and the PSW, in particular, will be very glad that it is.
I mean, has the reader ever though of how to lift someone out of a bed, without a mechanical device, that does not want to be lifted and is being difficult? (Try it sometime) Dead weight can be more difficult to lift than live weight. One can imagine that it would be very easy to twist a back muscle or two and be off work almost anytime.
There are many training courses available by many training companies, (including HRS Group Inc.) that can aid an employer by the identification of healthcare hazards, the possible assessment of those hazards as well as the potential for a control to be put in place. The employer can institute something simple such as asking for help when a lift is particularly difficult as part of the corrective action plan.
I would be curious to find out how the Alberta initiative decreased the number of claims? In Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) works hard to return workers back to the job. Many a time, though, the return to work was earlier than the personal physician recommended and the worker was re-injured.
In other words, did the Alberta initiative protect the workers or did they decide to rate claims for possible denial? Remember, Alberta only recently began protecting farm and ranch workers. For this reason, I am asking the question.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.