Stay Safe on the Job

Staying Safe on the Job: Continuing Education Helps Workers Learn Best Practices
Written by Lora Shinn

Imagine that you’ve been working with a home care consumer for over a week. Then, after transferring them from their bed to a wheelchair, you feel a pain in your back. The pain makes it difficult to work. How could this have been prevented?

You can learn more about these concerns and others at “Annual Training on Hazards of Blood-borne Pathogens in the Workplace and Preventing Workplace Injuries.” This two-hour Continuing Education course is a review of workplace safety, including common avoidable injuries, hazards of blood-borne pathogens, strategies for reducing overexertion, and avoiding and reporting “slip, trip and fall” injuries. Here’s a quick rundown on what you’ll learn:

Strategies for preventing blood-borne pathogen exposure, the spread of infectious disease, along with what to do if exposed to a pathogen, and how to report exposure. Attendees will learn about blood-borne pathogens and infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, and AIDS. They will also learn about common mistakes and misunderstandings around pathogens or infectious diseases, testing procedures, and prevention.

Identify common, avoidable Home Care Aide injuries. For example, did you know that the No. 1 injury cause is overexertion that results from handling people? Overexertion causes an average loss of 79 days on the job. Other common causes of injury include slips, trips, and falls, handling objects incorrectly, moving your body in the wrong way, and even bites from aggressive animals.

There’s also time to share and learn from one another. Group facilitators will ask if you’ve ever strained your muscles in the workplace: your back, neck or arms. Did it limit you? How long did healing take, and did you seek health care to recover from the injury? What would you have done differently, knowing what you know now?

Review strategies for preventing overexertion and bodily reaction injuries and slips, trips and falls. For example, to prevent overexertion, facilitators will teach simple, easy-to-implement tips, such as the importance of pre-work stretches, stress reduction, rest and sleep. Even something as basic as water can boost proper body mechanics and muscle strength.

To try out their new skills, attendees are broken into pairs and given challenges to achieve. In one class, HCAs were asked to maintain healthy body movement while picking up a pencil from the floor, grasping a spray bottle under the sink, or a handing a book to a partner from a bookshelf.

You’ll learn how to report concerns when a client refuses care or makes choices that present a possible safety concern. For example, a consumer refuses to seek medical attention for aches and pains, might say she can’t afford a doctor and would rather take Tylenol. Perhaps a raw spot on the consumer’s hip or buttock indicates a pressure sore, but the consumer hides the sore, won’t let you look at it, or won’t get medical attention, worried that they’ll be sent to a nursing home. Or more concerning: a consumer shows signs of a dangerous medical emergency (like a heart attack or a stroke), but won’t allow you, the HCA, to call an ambulance  – once again, worried about cost.

In short, the class offers a quick but important review of key skills you need to do your job, and the opportunity to learn alongside fellow HCAs. You’ll learn about safety on the job, and how to deal with concerning situations and challenges. The upcoming L&I course is an engaging, interesting way to learn more about yourself, your job and your consumers.

Photo via, user: Lucille Pine