- Understand how health and safety legislation is implemented in the health and social care workplace.
It is of foremost importance to a workplace to have policies concerning health and safety. In case of absence of such policy the organizations as well as the employees face adverse consequences. As far as health and social care workplaces are concerned this aspect is of immense importance. Individuals employed in health and social care workplaces are in most cases victims of low morale, financial psychological injury, poor productivity. It is the duty of the organizations to see that the employees lead a life which is devoid of stress and is at the same time healthy.
In this paper I will deal with various aspects of health and safety at health and social care workplace.
Communication of health and safety related information in health and social care workplace
In this part of the paper I am going to review asses and analyze the procedures and policies for communication of information regarding health and safety at health and social care workplace. In order to properly adopt health and safety provisions at workplace it is very important to have effective communication throughout the organization. In order to communicate the information consideration of the structure and size of the organization and the level of competence of the employees is required (Sullivan, 2010). Various legislations deal with the issue and hence proper communication is necessary. The organization should promote health and safety procedures and policies for users of services at the health and social acre unit which includes the patients and also the employees.
- The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 makes it mandatory for the employers who have five or more employees to maintain a record of the safety policies and must also consult with the employees in this regard. Consultation with employees is necessary because their interest is at stake and also they are the ones who are facing the issues and thus they would be able to give the management proper suggestions in this regard
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation 1999 provides that employers ought to communicate to the employees as well as their representatives’ information concerning health and safety. Effective communication ensures that the employees have sufficient information and thus informed decisions in connection with protective and preventive measures could be implemented. This regulation requires all employers to provide information to the employees regarding: the possible risks to health and safety; measures to prevent such risks; procedures during emergency; the identity of individuals who pay a role for management of safety at the health and social care unit (Scie.org.uk, 2013)
The following ways may be adopted by the employers to ensure health and safety of employees, patients and the public at large.
- Creation of Health and Safety Committee
Health and safety committees could be created so that feedbacks may be recorded through the representatives of health and safety.
Implementation of training program for the employees so that the employees have up-to-date information about legislations and the changes that are made to the existing laws.
- Health and Safety law posters
Legislation requires the employers to put on display law posters. Such law posters must have been approved by the Health and safety Executive.
The health and safety issues should be discussed elaborately during departmental meetings
- Information in this regard may also be made a part of the pay slips
- The suppliers who provide machineries which may in any way cause harm either to the employees or to the patients must provide hazardous information sheet and may also display
- Information may also be imparted through the internet.
- As far as new employees are concerned the health and safety information may be imparted during induction of the new employees.
These procedures may be used to communicate with the employees
Further in order to communicate with the public at large the following methods may be used,
- Health safety information may be displayed digitally.
- In cases of necessity, hazard warnings may be rendered.
- Signage for ensuring health and safety may also be used.
The health and safety policies must be accessible to all employees. The information concerning health and safety must be delivered in language known to all employees. Such communication must be clear and unambiguous and must also be timely. The fact that information was rendered does not mean that it has been understood, received and would also be acted upon, there must be proper review of such measures. The organizations must always stress on face-to-face communication as it is the best method even in this internet era.
Own Workplace Experience
Now I would state the methods of communication of health and safety information which my workplace uses. These include, imparting heath safety information through notice and bulletin boards, internet, also in meetings of the organization where all are present. The suppliers of health care equipments provide hazardous information sheets also warning are displayed on the body of the equipments, proper training is imparted so that employees know how to use the equipments safely.
Analysis of health and safety priorities in a health and social care workplace
In this section I will analyze the health and safety priorities of health and social care unit. These priorities may be listed as follows:
- Health workers who are incompetent and unequipped
- Fire alarms which do not function
- Accident prone zones
- Loss of stuffs belonging to the clients
- Outbreak of disease within the hospital
These are all priorities which must be must be dealt with according to prioritization.
The outbreak of disease within the hospital is of foremost concern as it causes harm to not just the workers of the hospital but also the patients. Adequate attention has to be paid to this aspect and reform of policies has to be done accordingly. Sanitation, hygiene and infection control measures must be strengthened to give effect to this change.
The unskilled workers must also be given priority. In order to do so requisite trainings and seminars must be conducted. If the health service providers are not skilled enough then whatever institutional reforms we may implement it would not be of much use as everything is dependent on the service providers.
Accident prone zones are another important issue. Minor accidents which take place due to tips and falls can be easily prevented by promoting communication amongst the health workers in every department. Putting signage is also a way of preventing these accidents (Wears, 2004).
Issues concerning security of the belongings of the clients are lined up next in priority. Reform must be brought about in the policies of the hospital which regulate the number of visitors per patient must be amended. Strict visiting hours must be implemented and a record has to be kept regarding the outsiders visiting the patients (Flin, 2006). Clients must also be warned to keep safe their belongings and that the hospital is not accountable in case of any loss.
The fire extinguishers and fire alarms must be maintained regularly. The day-to-day required equipments for the hospital must also be maintained on a regular basis.
The exit routes must be enhanced by reconstruction and generic signs may be displayed so as to guide the clients and the employees in cases of emergency.
Now I would state the safety priorities at my own organization. Since I work at a hospital my organization ensures that health care service providers are well trained on issues concerning health and safety which they may encounter in the course of their employment. Cleanliness is maintained with high priority so as to prevent food poisoning and also to ensure that the patients get a good clean environment which is healthy for them. Waste disposal is also paid importance at our hospital as it is very essential to maintain safety. The bed rails must be proper as many accidents may occur in case of their absence as also if they are not maintained properly accidents may happen, like patients being trapped in between these rails (Bate, 2004).
Assessment of risk is an important instrument in drawing up care plans. It is on the basis of risk assessment the organizational decision making is carried out and policies and procedures are framed (Woodward and Tomlinson, 1985). Risk assessment template must contain; the hazards which might take place at the workplace, the individuals who are at risk of being harmed, what steps have been already taken in this regard, whether anything else needs to be done to eliminate the risk, who are supposed to take the necessary actions and within what time frame, finally there should be a column containing information as to whether the risk has been eliminated or not (Hse.gov.uk, 2014) .
Without assessment of risk the health and social care unit will not be able to determine the areas which require change. There would not be any scope for improvement because without risk assessment there would not be a basis for such implementation (Health and Safety in Workplace, 2013). By virtue of the information gathered through risk assessment the hospitals would be able to reform their policies (Simons, Leroy and Savage, n.d.).
Risk Assessment Template
Individuals who are at risk and how?
What steps are/ have been taken
What else needs to be done to eliminate the risk
Who are supposed to take action?
Timeframe within which action is taken
Whether done or not?
Trips and slips
Employees well as the clients.
Risk may be caused due to ramps being unmarked, low lightings, slippery floors caused by fluids or talcum, any type of obstruction etc
Slip resistant floors are used at present
Floors must be kept free from obstructions, like, equipments must be stored at their proper places and should not be left on the walkways
The management and the employees must take the actions
Actions must be taken at the earliest
Falls from height
Both employees as well as the patients.
Risks may be caused by falling from windows or balconies to the patients and to the employees by working at height.
Window restrictors have been constructed
Balconies must be suitably protected and access of vulnerable individuals must be restricted, while working at height employees should take reasonable protection, use of equipments to safeguard against falls.
The management and the employees are supposed to take the measures
At the earliest possible
The data accumulated with the risk assessment helps one to identify the problem areas. Care plan on the other hand is useful to determine the steps which are required to achieve the objectives. Care Plan must contain provisions like, assessment, objectives, execution and evaluation.
One aspect of health and safety policy at own workplace
Helping the patients is one of the significant part of working in a hospital or care home. The staffs have to face many injuries as a result of moving and handling the patients. For instance, some patients need assistance for walking whereas others need assistance for dressing, bathing etc. Since I work at a hospital in this section I would analyze the impact of health and safety policy in connection with moving and handling at my own workplace.
My workplace uses various equipments to manage moving and handling. These include;
- Different types of hoists are used, for instance, mobile hoists, hosts for raising fallen residents from the floor, standing aids, bath hoists etc.
- Transfer boards and slide sheets are also used
- For immobile patients electric profiling beds are used
- Use of handling belts so as to assist healthy patients
- Lifting cushions
- Equipments for emergency evacuation
Various types of dilemmas may arise while implementing the policies for health, safety and security. These dilemmas may include the stubbornness of the care providers regarding change, the financial support required to implement the changes, the resistance of old workers from undergoing training and also shortfalls in information delivery systems. These type of problems are faced by such social and health care unit which fail to address the concerns and needs of the employees (Health and Safety in Care Homes, 2014). In order to address these dilemmas prior to the implementation of new policies and procedures organizations must conduct meetings wherein information may be disseminated and at the same time ideas may also be gathered from the employees and workers (Powell, 2002). The management should give importance to the ideas of the employees and the workers because they are the ultimate stake holders. The organizations must educate the workers regarding the purpose of the change so that they do not resist. The service users in most cases fail to understand the requirements for a company’s change as they happen to be the peripheral part of the stake holders. It is the duty of the organizations to make them aware about the changes. Since customers get used to a way of conducting business and would be faced with a lot of problems due to the sudden change. Thus assistance should be provided to the service users to get used to the changes. Another dilemma is the funds. Since institutional changes are very costly affairs the management has to make provision for huge funds. Funds may be collected by requesting support from the governmental funding organizations (Garcarz and Wilcock, 2005).
Few other types of dilemmas faced by the care providers may be as follows:
Health care workers at times face moral dilemmas also while trying to ensure health and safety of the service users. For instance, a service user might refuse to take medicines as he has the right to do so. But it is the duty of the care providers to make sure that the clients are getting proper treatment(Ali, Chalder and Madan, 2014). This is an instance of moral dilemma faced by the care providers because on one hand the patient is not willing to take the medicine whereas on the other hand the care provider is duty bound to make him have the medicine. In such a situation patient might die and the care provider might be blamed for such consequence. If the care provider forces the clients to take the medicine he/ she may be blamed of abusing the client. Thus we may conclude that the care providers at health and social care workplaces have to undergo complex dilemmas (Nolan, 2005).
Consequences of non compliance with health and safety legislations in the health and social care workplace
Non compliance with the health and safety legislative requirements would lead to serious consequences on the part of both the employers and the employees. When an employer does not comply with health and safety legislation then he may be subjected to prosecution. If employees are found to have breached the requirements of health and safety legislation could lead to;
- Disciplinary action being taken against such employees
- He may be transferred compulsorily.
- He may also be dismissed
- Other legal actions like imprisonment or fine may be taken against him.
Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 provides that if an offence relating to health and safety at workplace is committed and such offence may be attributable to the neglect on the part of any director or office bearer of the health and social care unit then the concerned person as well as the organization would be subject to prosecution. The ones who are found guilty may have to pay fine and undergo imprisonment(Bradshaw, 1995). The prosecutions would be heard in the courts of law in England and in case the court finds the employers guilty of breach he may be either made to pay fine or imprisoned or he may also be disqualified from holding directorial position (Hughes and Ferrett, 2007).
A case example may be presented. A certain care home located in Southern Lanark shire was made liable to bear fine for having breached the provisions of Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. In this case the patient who was 88 years old had died owing to a fall and consequent breaking of neck. The care home failed to assess the risk appropriately and thus the employees did not have adequate knowledge as to the steps they must take in handling and moving the patients (Summerhayes, 2010).
The Corporate Manslaughter and the Corporate Homicide Act, 2007 makes provision that when the management fails to take due care which it owes towards the employees as also the public at large and such failure results in death(Davies, 2010). The maximum penalty which the courts may impose in such cases is unlimited fine and may also require the organization to bring to public notice the details regarding the conviction and fine (Stuart, 2001).
The Health and Social Care Act, 2008 makes various provisions which the providers of health care services must abide by and in case of non compliance of such provisions the Care Quality Commission is entitled to take steps against the one committing the breach.
Monitoring and Review of policies and practices
Policies concerning health and safety practices must be reviewed and monitored occasionally. The review and monitoring process helps to make the policies more effective. These are very essential for present health care practices which are changing rapidly. Review and monitoring helps in quality assurance of the services being provided at the health and social care units. In fact this is the final step of the risk assessment process. It includes inspection of the success of the policies which have been implemented, keeping a check on their developments and the drawbacks (HARRISON, 2012). This is the only way by which the system can be kept up to date and also to ensure that the changes implemented are serving their purpose and have not just proved to a waste (Williams, 2015).
At my organization the information gathered through the risk assessment process are reviewed occasionally to find out if the problems have been mitigated or whether they still exist. Notes are to be taken of the positive and negative effects of the changes which have been implemented. These recordings are very important as they would become the basis of future change. After the data has been reviewed a report is circulated amongst the stake holder which in turn serves as an impetus for the entire team to keep up the good work. But in case the results are poor then it would encourage the team to strive for better performance. This practice of communication adopted at my workplace is a very ideal system since the workers are the ones who have contributed to such outcomes.
Thus we may say that this process involves reviewing of the prevailing practices, conducting audit of the threats and risks involved, subjecting the policies and procedures to recent updates, finally gaining wisdom from prior experience. An organization in order to be effective must take a note of the past threats and should attempt to formulate strategies to prevent reoccurrence of such threats.
Effectiveness of health and safety policies
From my experience I would say that the policies concerning health and safety have an effect on the care providers and also the service users. This is owing to the fact that both have to comply with the policies implemented by the health and social acre unit. These policies render protection to the service users from the health and safety issues they might face as users of services of a certain care providing institution. Health and safety policies in hospitals include protective gears, signage etc which are all designed for the welfare of the service users.
As far as the care providers i.e. the health care workers are concerned, policies concerning them include, issues regarding handling of patients and other professional issues like command chain etc. Policies are framed by the health and social care organizations so as to run the institution properly without causing any harm to anybody. The organizations arrange for seminars as a part of these policies so as to educate the workers so that they may make use of the skills properly. These policies are not just for the benefit of the organization and the employers and employees, they are equally beneficial to the service users as when the workers are properly skilled they are the ones who would be finally benefitted.
Evaluation of my own contributions to ensure health and safety at workplace
In my present job I make sure health and safety of the service users are of utmost importance and take necessary actions to upkeep the health and safety of the service users. In order to do so I try to abide by the below mentioned rules which I have set for myself to ensure health and safety at workplace.
- The foremost duty of a care provider or for that matter any individual is to be careful regarding his/ her own safety.
- I have made myself acquainted with the legislation of the workplace and have made it is a point that all clauses are clear to me.
- I have made myself familiar with the health and safety requirements which might affect my job.
- I try to work safely and at the same time encourage my colleagues to do the same.
- While operating the health care machines and equipments I make sure that I wear lose clothing and no jewellery.
- Whenever the hospital makes arrangement for trainings I participate invariably so that I can do my job with better skills and precision.
- I take proper precaution so that I do not end up causing harm to others in the course of my employment.
- I keep a proper check on the personal protective care equipments. In case they lack the proper standard I inform the same to the higher authorities.
- If I ever come to know of any prevailing unsafe condition in the hospital I take steps to do away with the unsafe conditions, if they are within my reach or inform the authorities about such condition.
- While carrying out jobs I never take shortcuts by avoiding totake proper care.
These are some steps I take as a health care employee to ensure health and safety at my workplace.
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