Lakeridge Health eliminates injuries with innovation and collaboration

A common hospital task once plagued by injuries is now incident-free at Lakeridge Health thanks to innovative thinking and collaborative effort.

For the Service Associates (SAs) who work hard to keep our hospital clean, wet mopping is an essential part of day-to-day duties. It’s also a task that leaves them vulnerable to overexertion, strains, chemical exposure, and slips, trips and falls. In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, our SAs sustained more than 40 injuries related to wet mopping. However, this year-to-date, the number of injuries reported is 0.

This dramatic reduction is the result of an innovative approach taken by our Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness team. Using Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), a popular tool in the private sector but virtually unheard of in Ontario’s Acute Care facilities, Lakeridge Health has made the job of an SA safer than ever.

“Fewer injuries sustained by colleagues’ means a better work experience, which ultimately leads to a better patient experience and that’s what we are all here for,” says Peter Clancy, Director of Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness at Lakeridge Health.

Clancy led the charge to introduce the JHA, a process that breaks down a particular job into various tasks and evaluates the risk associated with each part of that task, which leads to the development of preventative strategies to reduce the risk of injury.

An integral part of making the JHA work for Lakeridge Health was the involvement of frontline colleagues. Occupational Health, Safety & Wellness teamed up with Environmental Services, who turned to their Staff Council to help develop a JHA specific to wet mopping, soiled linen handling and portering.

When they looked at wet mopping, the team identified each individual task that is involved, such as clearing the area of obstructions, putting up wet floor signs, preparing the cleaning agents, filling and mopping bucket, and submerging and lifting the mop. For wet mopping alone, they identified 17 individual tasks, each with their own risk factors.

Hazards presented by these actions ranged from awkward postures and ergonomic concerns, slipping risks for the SA and others, chemical exposure, incidental contact with equipment or furniture, and strains from moving obstacles. In an effort to eliminate injury, the team then suggested preventative actions. For instance, the SA must ensure the bucket is clean and empty before filling. Identified as high risk for the possibility of getting sprayed or spilling, the team has directed SAs to never fill the bucket more than half full and only with the appropriate chemical. Such recommendations were made for every task involved in the wet mopping process.

The introduction of the JHA is just one of the ways Lakeridge Health intends to meet a key goal of its  Strategic Plan, to completely eradicate the top three categories of lost time injuries—patient handling, manual material handling and slips, trips and falls—over the next five years.

“The reduced number of injuries we’re currently seeing demonstrates that the systems we have in place will achieve our desired outcomes, making the role of our SAs injury-free,” says Clancy.

Environmental Services, which includes SAs, continues to use preventative measures as outlined in the JHA as the best approach to avoiding injury and is currently working to identify other physically demanding tasks performed by our SAs in an effort to develop JHA’s for those tasks as well. For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Lakeridge Health will be developing a JHA specific to patient handling, including lifting, transferring and repositioning. By utilizing the concept of the Job Hazard Analysis, Lakeridge Health is well on its way to achieving its ultimate goal—to become the healthiest hospital workplace in Ontario.