Education and Training Lead to Safety Grant Success

December 5, 2018 • Missouri Employers Mutual

Funding should not stand in the way of saving lives at work, and MEM’s SafetySMARTS Safety Grants program provides a one-to-one match on the purchase of safety equipment, up to $10,000, to help offset common industry related injuries. Even with safety equipment in place, driving down claims costs can be a challenge when a safety culture isn’t in place to reinforce safe behaviors. Take it from our policyholders, employee education and training make the difference between a safe workplace or added claims costs.

Learning the Hard Way

In 2017, Excelsior Springs Hospital turned to MEM when preventable injuries and claims costs continued to rise. Many of their technicians and nurses were experiencing strains due to repeatedly lifting and transporting patients. After being approved for a safety grant, the hospital purchased a HoverJack, HoverMatt and HoverJack cart to help prevent future strains. They selected this suite of equipment to allow caregivers to easily lift patients; however, they only avoided strains when they used the equipment properly.

“Due to lack of training and reinforcement, we experienced a claim in the same area we expected the safety equipment to offset after it was implemented,” said Joni Schwan, HR/Safety Director at Excelsior Springs Hospital. “We later discovered the out-of-the-way location where we stored the safety equipment was also inhibiting regular use.”

MEM safety and risk consultants helped the hospital develop and enhance customized safety policies, as well as additional training sessions to educate staff on how to successfully and safely operate the new equipment.

“We used a template from MEM and now we have safety rules that everyone – including new hires – must acknowledge and follow every day,” says Joni. “If we don’t take the time to enforce safe behavior, we can’t expect our workplace to become safer. I’m grateful for the consultation MEM provided so we could realize better outcomes, and we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in our claims.”

The hospital now has a system in place to properly train all employees, including newly hired employees. They also enforce an annual skills checklist, so even employees who may not use the equipment as frequently still know how to use it correctly.

Safety Goes Up, Claims Go Down

Since the hospital has implemented several policies and has provided more equipment safety training, there have been no additional claims related to lifting and transporting patients. The consistent enforcement and accountability ensure the staff takes the extra time to use the equipment the right way.

The safety grant inspired the hospital staff to pay extra attention and use more caution in other areas, including when utilizing needles. There are times, such as when cleaning or disposing of needles, that employees are at risk for needle sticks and possible injections with exposures to blood borne pathogens. After highlighting this risk, researching, and implementing additional safety products throughout their operation, the hospital has seen an 88 percent decrease in exposures to needle sticks.

After implementing new safety rules and internal procedures, Excelsior Springs Hospital has seen their claims costs decrease; in fact, claims in all areas have decreased due to an increased awareness and enhanced culture of safety throughout the hospital.

“Now we have safety rules that everyone who works here – including new hires – must acknowledge and follow every day,” says Joni. “With more education, testing our products and making sure everyone is comfortable with the products, we see a notable shift toward safety and safe behavior.”

Joni also believes applying for and receiving the safety grant has given employees a boost in morale. Their safety culture has changed to proactive from punitive, which fosters trust and reinforces the care they strive to provide their patients with their employees.

“The employees were happy to know we invested in their future,” Joni said. “I would definitely recommend the Safety Grants program, as we would have never been able to implement this safety equipment on our own.”

MEM’s Commitment to the Future

MEM is dedicated to helping policyholders create safer work environments for employees, all while saving them money. Policyholders saw approximately $3.7 million in claims in the two years prior to receiving a safety grant. After implementing the safety equipment with the grant, these same policyholders have seen less than $9,000 in claims in those same areas.

MEM’s goal is to eliminate workplace injuries entirely. In the past three years, we have awarded $1 million in safety grants. Our Safety Grant program is available to all MEM policyholders, regardless of claims history. Read more about the program and how you can apply.

December 5, 2018
Missouri Employers Mutual
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