A culture of safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) performed a four year study in which data was captured from emergency department records. It showed that more than 22,000 EMS workers are treated annually for work-related injuries. Most of those injured were full-time employees with less than 10 years’ experience. The majority of injuries were sprains and strains to the back and neck. Injuries happened during the care and transport of patients during 911 calls.
Body motion injuries as a result of excessive physical effort, awkward posture, or repetitive motion, resulted in 6,000 injuries per year. Exposure to harmful substances, such as blood or respiratory secretions, injured another 6,000. An area that we obviously do not give adequate attention to is the injury process related to slips, trips, and falls, which accounted for 4,000 injuries. Note that this is twice the number associated with motor vehicle incidents. Sudden stops, swerves, and crashes accounted for 2,000 injuries. Violence and assaults matched the annual frequency related to motor vehicle incidents of 2,000.
The CDC and NIOSH recommended that employers create a culture of safety. This is achieved by mandating practices that prevent injuries, maintaining a reporting system so that injury data is captured and monitored, and identifying near misses. A near miss is an event in which a negative outcome is narrowly avoided. On occasion, it is a matter of happenstance. A near miss may also occur as the result of a specific behavior. A good reporting mechanism creates the opportunity for near misses to validate safe behaviors. For example, years ago a driver called me to say that by following the lane clearing practice shown in “Arrive Alive Do No Harm”, she avoided a potentially fatal collision. When I asked her with whom she shared this information besides me, she said nobody. This was clearly a wasted opportunity.
Several recommendations were made for employers:
Although these are recommendations for employers, everybody has the responsibility to promote safety. Injury prevention will not occur unless those in harms way exercise vigilance and acquire the skills to protect themselves.
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.