In Canada, health care is among the top four industry sectors in terms of frequency of lost time injuries, well ahead of mining and construction. Health care in Canada has the highest rates of patient/client aggression and violence, even higher than police work. The other top two sources of lost time injuries are musculoskeletal injuries and slips and falls. Bullying in the workplace and increased workloads with little resources leads to burnout and fatigue. Ample evidence exists that shows a connection between high rates of injury/illness, absences from work and adverse outcomes for patient/clients and workers.
There is evidence based research that supports the benefits to linking worker safety and patient safety, but many organizations struggle to make this connection happen in their organizations. "The promotion of safe patient handling, adaptive clothing, scheduled toileting, stroke management training, measures to improve management of aggressive behaviour and, of course, infection control - all intended to improve the safety of workers, but also to improve patient safety and quality of care."( Yassi , Hancock ,2005). Organizations should take a proactive approach in assessing, measuring, evaluating, managing and mitigating risks. This approach can consist of:
- Leadership & Commitment
- Risk identification & analysis
- Risk management & control
- Evaluation & corrective action
- Strategic review for continuous improvement
The Joint Commission on Improving Patient and Worker Safety identified 'awareness of the potential synergies between patient and worker health and safety activities.' The following four activities are suggested:
- Encourage leaders to make patient and worker safety a core organizational value.
- Identify opportunities to integrate patient and worker safety activities across departments and programs.
- Understand and measure performance on safety-related issues.
- Implement and maintain successful worker and patient safety improvement initiatives.
As organizations continue to make the link between worker safety and patient safety, they will also see the benefits. Health care leaders are now seeing the benefits of implementing a proactive, coordinated system approach in health and safety and they include:
- Increased quality of patient care and service
- Decrease in absenteeism and overtime
- Improved communication and teamwork
- Higher work satisfaction and productivity
- A healthier more stable workforce
- A safer work environment
Nurturing a Patient Safety Culture
Patient to worker Safety
CDC- New Guidelines
Patient Safety Institute
Public Health Agency of Canada
Qmentum Quarterly-Minimizing risk (April 2012)
Ivey Business Journal- Connecting Worker Safety to Patient safety (Jan/Feb 2009)