A strong safety culture has a great impact on ensuring employee safety and reducing incidences. HOTCOMP’s Program Administrator, Barry Couch, asked Marcy Murrell, HOTCOMP Safety Committee member & Co-Safety Director/Infection Control Nurse for Sweeny Community Hospital District, about the hospitals’ strong safety culture.
BC: What is your organization’s structure and protocols to manage employee safety issues?
MM: The Sweeny Community Hospital District is committed to promoting the safety of all patients, visitors, volunteers, healthcare workers, and trainees. The hospital has an organization-wide medical safety program designed to reduce medical/health system errors and hazardous conditions by utilizing continuous improvement to support an organizational safety culture as part of an ongoing, proactive effort in response to actual occurrences.
- SCH gives a quarterly safety report to the Hospital Board of Directors.
- Mr. William Barnes, former CEO of Sweeny Community Hospital, was instrumental in creating our Safety Committee. The Safety Committee continues to work hard to create and implement a successful workplace safety culture.
- The Administrative/Safety Committee meets monthly and we touch on topics of Facility Safety, Building Inspection Report, Recall Report, Inventory Reconciliation Report, State/Federal Regulation Education, Security/Workplace Violence, and Patient/Staff Safety. We also cover Environment of Care Rounds, Infection Control, Falls, Exposures, Employee Injuries, Safety Manual Policy Review, National Patient Safety Goal Report, Safety Tip of the Month, and Round Table.
- Issues/Incidents are reported into the web-based program, Texas Safety Net (TSN). These reports are followed up by Managers, Safety Officers, or Quality and resolved if possible.
BC: When an employee injury occurs what process do you use to evaluate, learn, document, and improve from it?
MM: We have established Injury and Exposure Packets for all of our departments and campuses. If an employee is injured or exposed (which is an injury) we have packets that can be pulled by supervision. It gives step by step instruction on how to handle the situation, get help for the employee, and fill out all the necessary documentation. We evaluate what could have caused the injury. Was it a facility issue, education issue, etc.? We evaluate if a process needs to be changed. All of these kinds of incidents are also entered into TSN.
BC: What is your biggest employee safety challenge?
MM: Back strain and violence from patients to staff are our biggest safety issues with employees. I think it’s just the nature of the business.
What have you done to address it and/or control the exposure?
MM: To address the challenge of back strain, we have really worked on ergonomics and staying safe when transferring patients. We incorporate stretchers and wheelchairs that are easy to use. We use teamwork for moving and transferring patients.
We have various protocols in place to address the issues of violence in the hospital. For verbal and physical abuse from patients we have had a lot of education on ways to de-escalation of situations. We have Dr. Purple which is a code for violent patient that the code team responds to. We have established a Dr. Black code to indicate it is time to follow the policy for an active shooter in the hospital. We have alarm buttons in isolated departments. We usually use a buddy system when dealing with patients. And we have a great working relationship with the Sweeny Police Department.
BC: How have you paid for the programs to help solve your employee safety challenges?
MM: Most of our programs have been developed by our staff and education given by our staff.
BC: What new safety protocols have you found to be more effective, if any?
MM: This past January we started Safety Huddle. It was something Mr. Barnes brought back from an Education Seminar. We said we would try it and see how it worked. At 8:15 every weekday morning, all managers report for Safety Huddle and off site managers report safety status to their administrative heads for their report to be given. Every department reports the condition of their department, safety issues, and communications about what is happening in the hospital. It’s been a great communication tool and our employees know about the Safety Huddle.
It’s not a new safety protocol but we still do use it and that is IC Sweeps. Twice a day an IC Sweep is announced overhead with scripts that remind of cold and flu season etc. This was established for Infection Control. We also have a Fire Safety Presentation and Active Shooter presentation.
What are the outcomes and improvements you have measured as a result of the new safety protocols?
MM: We have decreased the amount of falls. We have increased the commitment of staff to take responsibility for a culture of safety and educating our public to a culture of safety. Staff members are not afraid to report safety issues. They have the knowledge to know how to act and react in certain situations.
BC: Please describe the process you use to introduce the safety protocols to new employees and new protocols to all employees?
MM: Every employee, volunteer, and student is oriented to existing protocols and oriented to any new protocols that are established. We have a hospital web page that is Blue that we call the Blue Page and all presentations are there to be viewed. It is our Bulletin Board of communication and education that all employees have access to.
BC: What methods do you use to ensure the safety protocols are being enforced and properly used?
MM: We do environment of care rounds and safety rounds usually on a daily basis. We have TSN to report any incidents of unusual occurrences or accidents. We also have a link on the Blue Page called HELP where we can alert maintenance or IT of any issues. We have Safety Huddle and of course we communicate directly to managers with issues.
BC: Do you have an on-going safety training for your employees? What topics are covered?
MM: Everything brought into Safety Committee is brought to Department meetings and in-service.
Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a policyholder-owned company, recently awarded a dividend of $540,347 to the Hospitals of Texas safety group (HOTCOMP). The dividend was earned based on the group members’ dedication to making safety a priority in their hospitals and therefore keeping the group’s loss ratio low.
One safety group member has had tremendous success in participating in the HOTCOMP Safety Group program. John Henderson, CEO of Childress Regional Medical Center, explains his appreciation for the program. “Our participation has been very beneficial. This year we received two checks from Texas Mutual and HOTCOMP’s dividend and loyalty programs. After reviewing our 2017 premium quote, factoring in the amounts of the dividend checks, a little more than 90% of our 2017 Workers Compensation premium cost have been covered.” Hospitals will experience different levels of performance, but Childress’ experience shows that a dedication to making Safety a priority pays.
“We are happy to reward our policyholder partners who share the same values we do – namely, keeping workers safe and keeping costs low,” said Texas Mutual President and CEO Rich Gergasko. “We are happy to reward our policyholder partners who commit to those values.”
HOTCOMP has distributed a total of $2,247,294 since the program’s inception in 2007. Since 1999, Texas Mutual has distributed more than $150 million in safety group dividends among qualifying safety groups. Since that time, Texas Mutual has distributed more than $2 billion in both safety group and individual policyholder dividends.
In addition to potential dividends, HOTCOMP safety group members also receive discounts on their workers’ compensation premiums and have access to free workplace safety materials designed for Texas Hospitals.
“Texas Mutual safety services offers valuable information that helps keep hospital employees safe,” said Barry Couch, program manager. “It’s great to know that Texas Mutual is in HotComp’s corner with safety tips and dividends that help hospitals keep costs low and focus on delivering quality care.”
While Texas Mutual has awarded dividends each year since 1999, they are based on performance and therefore are not guaranteed. Additionally, dividends must comply with Texas Department of Insurance regulations.
From Billboard’s Hot 100 to the Ten Most Dangerous Hackers, people love lists. Some lists are an honor to be part of. Case in point, Texas Mutual was thrilled to be named a 2016 Wards 50 Top-Performing P&C Carrier. And then there are lists you want no part of. Case in point, OSHA’s list of top 10 violations.
This summer, OSHA increased its fee structure by 80 percent. That means if an inspector catches you violating standards, it could cost you up to $124,709 per violation.
Now, most employers will never cross OSHA’s radar. The agency only employs one inspector for every 59,000 job sites. But what if OSHA does come knocking?
In the spirit of our affinity for lists, here are 10 tips for surviving an OSHA inspection.
Report injuries and illnesses
OSHA requires employers to record and report all fatalities, as well as certain injuries and illness. Starting in 2017, OSHA will require many employers to submit injury and illness records electronically. You can avoid costly fines by complying with recording and record keeping requirements.
Know what triggers an inspection
OSHA conducts programmed and unprogrammed inspections. Programmed inspections are planned. They focus on high-hazard companies and industries. Unplanned factors, including fatalities, severe injuries and employee complaints, trigger unprogrammed inspections.
Understand the inspection process
OSHA inspections follow a strict process, starting with the inspector presenting his or her credentials. From there, the inspector explains the purpose of the visit during the opening conference. The inspector will then walk the job site looking for hazards. The process wraps up with the closing conference, where you learn about any violations the inspector found.
Create an I2P2
A written injury and illness prevention program, known in OSHA-speak as an I2P2, provides a road map for sending employees home injury-free. The plan identifies the hazards employees are exposed to, explains how the company will protect employees and assigns accountability within the program.
Keep accurate records
Accurate records are a critical component of any successful safety program. They’re also a key part of OSHA inspections. During the opening conference, you will present your written I2P2, safety training records, medical surveillance records and OSHA logs. The inspector will also ask for applicable OSHA-required programs, such as hazard communication, hearing conservation, forklift safety and confined spaces. For sample programs, visit OSHA and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) online.
Don’t fall victim to scams
OSHA requires its inspectors to present their credentials before entering any workplace. There have been reports of people posing as inspectors and issuing fake citations or coercing employers into buying products or services to avoid violations. An OSHA inspector will never ask for immediate payment for a citation. You can verify an inspector’s credentials by calling the nearest OSHA area office.
Don’t interfere with the inspection
Sometimes, an employer allows the inspector to enter but interferes with or limits an important aspect of the inspection, such as the walk-through or employee interviews. Remember that interference could result in legal action.
Apply for variances
You might qualify for a compliance exception, or variance, to an OSHA standard. For example, some employers may not be able to comply fully and on time with a new safety or health standard because of a shortage of personnel, materials or equipment.
Get compliance assistance
If you’ve tried to navigate OSHA’s standards, you know it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Fortunately, you’re not on your own. Take advantage of these free OSHO-sponsored compliance assistance programs:
- OSHCON – OSHA partners with TDI to offer the Occupational Safety and Health Consultation (OSHCON) program. The program is a non-regulatory service that helps employers identify and correct violations without getting fined.
- VPP – Qualifying employers can enroll in OSHA’s voluntary protection program (VPP). Participating employers are exempt from programmed inspections while they maintain their VPP status.
Visit Work Safe, Texas
Maintaining a safe workplace is the best way to stay off OSHA’s radar, and Texas Mutual is here to help. We refresh worksafetexas.com each month with relevant, free resources. We encourage every employer to leverage the resources and make safety a value in their organization.