Home health care workers face many various hazards on the job, including travel, care administration injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress. Effective risk management can help prevent or minimize home health care worker exposure to these hazards, even more critical today as workers in this sector are experiencing increasing numbers of occupational injuries and illnesses.
Home health care workers – aides, personal care companions, RNs, LNAs, CNAs and others – work off site and often alone. By law, employers have a responsibility to protect their workers regardless of whether they’re surrounded by colleagues or alone on an assignment. This involves conducting a risk assessment of the workplace (patient’s home, for example) and implementing measures that minimize risks associated with employees working alone. These measures include providing employees with an effective way to communicate and request immediate assistance in the event of an emergency or if a worker is injured or ill. The method of communication should include either a cell phone, landline, or radio contact with a designated person. There should be check-in points established with other employees or a supervisor. Also, a clear action plan in the event of an emergency should be established.
Other measures, of course, include employee training, which ensures that an employer’s work procedures and protocols are followed when caring for patients. For example, musculoskeletal injuries are common with home health care aides who have to lift immobile patients and/or transfer them between beds and wheelchairs. This puts those workers at risk for musculoskeletal disorders, which injure their bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, joints, cartilage, tendons, or their blood vessels in their back, limbs, neck or head. To help protect them from musculoskeletal disorders and severe pains, they should receive training on how to use the correct body mechanics for reducing the risk of injury; for example, keep feet apart and knees bent when lifting an immobile patient. Ideally, they should also be provided with and receive training on using assistive devices such as slip-sheets, slings, and electronic hoists whenever possible.
Make sure that the staff is also trained to recognize potentially violent situations as well as how to respond to non-violent threatening situations.
Additionally, employees should be trained on the proper procedures when reporting a workplace incident. In a previous article, we discussed the importance of reporting an injury or illness immediately. Not only will the employee get the treatment he or she needs but it will help to keep Workers’ Compensation costs down.
About Caitlin Morgan
These are just some loss prevention and risk management strategies that home health care agencies should have in place. Additionally, an end-to-end insurance solution that provides General Liability, Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Employment Practices Liability, Crime, Cyber Liability, Non-Owned Auto, and other key coverages should be part of the organization’s program. Caitlin Morgan is a premier wholesaler providing insurance products for the home healthcare sector, which includes companies that provide healthcare services in patients’ private residences, assisted living or independent living facilities. For more information call us at (877) 226-1027.