Online RN to MSN
Clinical Systems Leadership

How Nurses Can Create a Safe Work Environment

To many clinicians, their workspaces are like a home away from home. Nurses want to feel comfortable in these environments, while also making sure they are being efficient during the workday. It’s imperative that these hospitals and clinics are safe, not only for health-care providers, but for patients as well.

Staff education is crucial to an improved working environment.

There are many steps clinicians and their managers can take to create protected and secure spaces. Let’s look at some examples:

Comply with OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which imposed the Occupational and Safety Health Act of 1970, is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Labor. The group and its leaders are in charge of developing workplace standards and regulations to ensure workplaces are safe for employees.

Health-care providers must follow the rules set out by this organization.Some of the specifics include:
• Maintaining confidentiality and a code of ethics in the occupational health field.
• Analyzing occupational exposures and injuries by utilizing work histories and safety data sheets.
• Understanding the laws and confidentiality requirements when dealing with medical records.
• Following recordkeeping obligations: Employers with more than 10 workers must document information about work-related illnesses and injuries.
• Reporting a dangerous workplace via OSHA’s toll free number.
• Knowing workers’ compensation rights depending on specific jurisdictions.

Ask for employee input

Every role within a clinic or hospital experiences its own troubling and challenging situations, especially when it comes to workplace safety. While there is some crossover, these differing perspectives can help leaders implement the most well-rounded precautions and policies possible. Managers should gather team members from various positions – a combination of nurses, physicians and other staff – for regular sessions to discuss workplace issues or means of improving the space itself. The establishment of a positive community-based work environment can improve overall job satisfaction as well as the level of safety for both nurses and their patients.

Educate staff on various precautions

In the nursing field, there are multiple levels of prevention techniques clinicians can use. Utilizing these directives can help health-care providers avoid workplace injury and ensure the environment is safe for patients as well as nurses. OSHA breaks these precautions down as follows:
Universal precautions, which apply to infection control: Nurses should treat all human blood and certain body fluids as if they were infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens. Not only should clinicians limit exposure, but also use gloves, masks, and gowns if exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials is expected.
Standard precautions, which are used to care for all patients regardless of their diagnosis or possible infection status: Clinicians should utilize strategies including hand washing and wearing appropriate protective equipment like gowns and masks whenever skin contact or fluid exposure is anticipated.
Transmission-based precautions, which go a step past standard protections: These prevention tips are intended to interrupt the transfer of pathogens in the hospital via Airborne Precautions, Droplet Precautions, and Contact Precautions.

Implement sharps-safety prevention

Mistakes are made in health-care settings every day, but these workplaces can actively prevent these errors by introducing certain precautions. One of the more common injuries nurses experience are from sharps – which are caused by a needle, blade or other medical instrument used to penetrate the skin. Every year, there are about 385,000 cases of sharps-related lacerations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are a few steps clinicians can take to reduce the number of these types of injuries, including:
1. Always be prepared: Injuries often occur when you least expect them, so prepare the patient and the workspace with the potential for sharps-related issues in mind.
2. Be aware: Be cognizant of exposed sharps around you. Keep them in your line of sight to avoid accidental injury and educate your staff to do the same.
3. Dispose correctly: Using sharps comes with responsibility. Make sure you dispose of them in specifically labeled containers and activate any safety features the instruments may have.

Speak up

There’s a reason why safety policies and procedures are in place – for the protection of health-care providers and patients alike. If rules are being purposely disregarded or ignored, it is crucial for clinicians to speak up, not only to their peers, but their managers as well. Health-care providers should inform their superiors of problems with workplace guidelines they’ve experienced. In addition, nurses should speak up about instances of workplace bullying, intimidation, verbal abuse or situations involving any type of violence. The sooner clinicians make these issues known, the faster the people in charge can find a solution to the problem at hand.

Nurses should be sure to share their input in whatever forum necessary to make their workspace safer.

A safe workplace is vital for nurses to be able to provide the highest level of service and care for their patients. By following OSHA’s standards, requesting insight from employees, implementing various precautions and prevention measures and voicing any concerns, clinicians can create an environment that is prepared for anything.

Gaining a Master of Science in Nursing degree can give health-care providers the additional precautionary training they need to ensure their workplace is as safe as possible.

Sources

https://www.osha.gov/dts/oom/clinicians/index.html#occupationalhealth

https://www.nurse.com/blog/2016/11/16/what-nurses-need-to-know-about-workplace-safety/

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/create-safe-environment-workplace-discuss-problems-17337.html

https://www.cdc.gov/sharpssafety/pdf/sharpssafety_poster1.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/sharpssafety/

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/hospital/hazards/univprec/univ.html

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