Point me at the sky and let it fly...

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

A couple of short-ish items for the week as we start to clear the decks for the headlong rush into the autumnal portion of 2022 (I know there’s still a month of summer left, but the season does seem to be picking up speed).

I know we’ve kind of covered this in the past, but I’ve not heard a whole lot of chatter about how the survey process is dealing with the ongoing implementation of programs to minimize the impact of workplace violence; certainly I would expect there to be some review of the required annual proactive analysis of the workplace, an investigation of workplace violence occurrences, and (ultimately) an evaluation of how your organization’s policies and procedures, training, education and environmental design reflect best practices while ensuring conformance with applicable laws and regulations.

If you’re having somewhat of a challenge in getting off the marks, so to speak, I think you’ll find the risk assessment tool kit assembled by the American Society for Health Care Risk Management (ASHRM) to be very instructive: https://www.ashrm.org/resources/workplace_violence.

And, as you start (or continue) the conversation within your organization, I think you’ll find Joe Bellino’s blog on workplace violence (https://newsroom.vizientinc.com/workplace-violence-three-ways-to-improve-hospital-employees-safety.htm#.Yt6cFVOFa2w.linkedin ) to be insightful and timely.

This is not going to go away without a great deal of collaboration and coordination between the primary stakeholders (by that I mean everyone within the “four walls” of any healthcare organization, large or small). I suppose it’s no surprise that the challenges relating to the management of behavioral health patients have mirrored the challenges of managing workplace violence—I don’t know that it’s so much a cause and effect as it is a somewhat inextricable bond, like a tightly wound length of wire with a whole bunch of filaments. It’s going to take a lot of something to unravel.

A (hopefully) quick concluding thought on the week; lately, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time surveying outpatient locations and one common theme that is emerging relates to the use of contract cleaning staff in the outpatient settings, and there not being a clear sense of what chemical cleaning products are in use.

For example, I know a lot of hospitals have been working very diligently to reduce/remove the amount of corrosive chemicals being used, particularly bleach. And now I’m finding jugs of bleach all over the place (and clearly in spaces where the bleach is being used, not just stored), which might very well lead a surveyor to think about the availability of emergency eyewash equipment.

Now, I understand that contract cleaning staff are not, technically speaking, the responsibility of the hospital when it comes to occupational health and safety, but if you haven’t really poked around into what products are being used in what capacities, it might be time to at least ask the contract vendor for a list of products being used and maybe the odd SDS or two. We know there’s been a focus on eyewash equipment in the past – no reason to think that the same logic couldn’t be applied to the outpatient setting.

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at stevemacsafetyspace@gmail.com.