The Scarborough Hospital embraces workplace health and safety

553

The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) has completely turned around its safety rating over the past two years, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars while engaging staff at all levels to embrace a proactive approach to a safer workplace environment.

In 2006, TSH launched the Safety Investment Project that included a broad group of managers, personal care managers, facilities people, all of them representing the collective voice of TSH. “Logistically, it was huge,” explains Steve Marchi, Manager of Safety at TSH. His team, along with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees, conducted job hazard assessments throughout the hospital, identifying and ranking each hazard. From there, more than 97 corporate policies were created, followed by unit-specific policies.

“At that time, we had no systems or structures in place, and we had to take 3,700 employees and safety-train where there was little training in place,” Marchi adds. “We had to develop learning modules that could train literally thousands of people in a short period of time, while maintaining a sustainable program for new employees. We created a series of five modules to cover everything, from basic ergonomics to rights and responsibilities under the legislation.”

These modules had to be flexible, incorporating multiple shifts and multiple sites. “There was a lot of work to do with policies, procedures, training and communication in order to engage departments to take responsibility,” Marchi says. “We had to take a hard-line approach coming in to ensure we achieved a safe work environment.”

The result of this proactive approach to workplace health and safety has been a remarkable improvement in lost time injuries. “We’re actually ahead of the curve now. Our lost time injuries have dropped below the average, for our health-care rate group,” he explains.

Another benefit to achieving a safer workplace, says Marchi, is that hospital accreditation has new safety criteria built in, “and TSH is now well positioned to meet that new criteria.”

“Hospital staff know they’re working in a safe environment, with systems in place that address and minimize risks, and where staff have a voice to express concerns and be empowered,” he adds. “That helps morale, and it makes for a more efficient workplace.”

Building on the success of the Safety Investment Project, THS is creating an emergency preparedness office, and is in the process of developing a TSH-wide Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) and Business Impact Assessment related to core critical functions.