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Illness and Injuries Prevention Programs

Illness and Injuries Prevention Programs

Abstract

Injury and illness prevention programs are of immense importance in improving the safety culture in healthcare establishments. The approach of prevention programs is proactively mitigating the probability of accident and disaster occurrence, thereby improving the safety of those protected. Therefore, these programs are effective in reducing illnesses, injury, and fatalities rate. Not many healthcare settings implement injuries and illness prevention programs because of low popularity of such programs in a healthcare setting. Workplace injuries and illnesses adversely influence workplace safety perceptions and healthcare workers’ outcomes. Hazards due to fatigue, lapses in infection control or faulty equipment result in the injury or illness of not only the healthcare worker but also the patient and other people in the healthcare facility.

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Illness and Injuries Prevention

Injury and illness prevention programs are of immense importance in improving the safety culture in healthcare establishments. The pillars of this program are worker participation, management leadership, continuous program evaluation, and hazard identification and assessment. This research work defines an injury and illness prevention program as a proactive plan in which employers find and fix workplace hazards before they hurt employees. The approach of prevention programs presupposes mitigating the probability of accident and disaster occurrence, thereby improving the safety of those protected. Therefore, these programs are effective in reducing the number of illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. This study investigates existing studies that support or oppose the importance of injury and illness prevention programs in improving the safety culture in healthcare establishments.

Literature Review

There are plenty of studies investigating the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention programs. Most of these studies support the idea that such programs are effective in eliminating fatalities, injuries, and illnesses, hence reducing workplace costs and associated absenteeism. Illness and injury prevention programs are consistent with Healthy People 2020 goal of promoting health and safety of people at work through prevention and early intervention. Greaghan (2011) and Jonkman (2009) argue that there exists a direct correlation between the number of fatalities and the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention programs. In another study comparing workplaces that have and do not have injuries and illness prevention programs, it is evident that the latter ones experience less safety culture. According to the United States Department of Labor, the burden of poor patient safety is the leading cause of death. Less known is the elevated incidence of work-related injuries and illnesses that threaten healthcare delivery. Norton and Kobusingye (2013) found out that healthcare settings are prone to injuries and illnesses. According to their study, not many healthcare settings implement injuries and illness prevention programs because of the low popularity of these programs in the healthcare setting (Norton & Kobusingye, 2013).

Yassi, Gilbert, and Cvitkovich (2005) investigated trends in injuries and illnesses policies in Canadian healthcare workplaces. In their study, they reported that time loss due to injuries negatively affected the productivity of healthcare providers. Injuries such as needle stick injuries, stress-related claims, and infectious diseases often resulted in time loss. However, over the years, injuries and illnesses among healthcare workers have greatly reduced while risks for injuries and illnesses have significantly increased. The study attributes these improvements to the implementation of illness and injury prevention programs in the workplace. Quantitative research by McCaughey, DelliFraine, McGhan, and Bruning (2013) argues that workplace injuries and illness adversely influence the perceptions of workplace safety climate and healthcare workers’ outcomes. Most importantly, the lack of programs aiming at preventing illnesses and injuries contributes to increased injuries and illnesses rate as workers are exposed to unprotected risk.

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The Institute of Medicine published a report in 1999 and held that human beings are prone to error. The study sought to present an understanding of the importance of building safer healthcare system, thereby ensuring the quality of care and patient safety. Safer environments for workers and patients were considered vital because the two are tied to numerous similar underlying cultural and systemic issues. Thus, hazards because of fatigue, lapses in infection control, or faulty equipment result in injury or illness of not only the healthcare worker but also the patient and other people in the healthcare facility. In another study investigating the effectiveness of injuries and illness prevention programs, Rocket et al. (2012) established that healthcare workers, who work in healthcare settings that do not perceive their health and safety as a priority, would not be able to provide care free of error. The study underscored the importance of system failures and benefits of a strong safety culture, which would help minimize such errors. Similar arguments are echoed in Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which believes that injuries and illness prevention programs are correlated with performance in productivity. DeJoy, Schaffer, Wilson, Vandenberg, and Butts (2004) emphasized that these programs are the core of occupational health professional.

Comprehensive injuries and illness prevention programs integrate safety into core values of health care organizations with the understanding that errors are inevitable. The elimination of hazards that might cause illnesses and injuries is considered the most effective method of improving health care setting’s safety. The lack of these programs often fails to mitigate not only injuries and illnesses but also the shock and adverse effects that follow the injuries and illnesses. Healthcare settings that review workplace injuries and illnesses are likely to develop programs to prevent or mitigate future incidences.

Within the healthcare facilities, fatal and traumatic injuries account for the death of more than 12 healthcare practitioners on a daily basis in the U.S alone. It is estimated that annually, more than 60,000 health practitioners within healthcare settings die because of occupational diseases. Therefore, the U.S. department of health challenges healthcare settings to have injuries and illness prevention programs.

Nevertheless, few studies oppose the significance of illness and injuries prevention programs. Studies opposed to these programs are of the perspective that maintaining the programs would be too burdensome for the healthcare settings. These studies argue that such programs could discourage workers from participating in voluntary health and safety operations. Nonetheless, there are no studies that reject the relationship between illness and injuries prevention programs and safety culture improvement. They agree that the programs are effective for reducing the numbers of reported injuries, hence promoting healthcare safety culture.

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There is also a belief among some healthcare workers that illness and injuries prevention programs are meant to discourage reporting of illnesses. They also hold the perspective that coaching and behavior modification can allow healthcare workers to practice safe work habits. According to the majority of studies seeking to explore the importance of illness and injuries prevention programs, such notions are wrong. For instance, investigating the role of illness and injuries prevention in healthcare settings, Salomon et al. (2013) established that these programs reduce the burden of disease and the chances of contracting illness among healthcare providers. Geaghan (2011) holds similar argument, supporting the view that if prevention plans had been appropriately implemented in accordance to the needs of people, the number of fatalities could have been greatly reduced.

Discussion

The importance of illness and injuries prevention programs cannot be underestimated. This research paper, comparing various studies deemed reliable, establishes that the use of illness and injuries prevention programs is increasingly important because they promote workplace safety and provide a feeling of safety among healthcare providers. One can see this need in a number of healthcare practitioners who suffer injuries and illnesses in workplaces. The number of deaths resulting from workplace injuries and illness is alarming and thus requires prevention.

Arguments for illness and injuries prevention programs outweigh those against the programs. It is evident that six out of the eight studies evaluated cite the importance of these programs. Above all, the study by Geaghan (2011) provides evidence in which the lack of prevention programs contributed to increased fatalities. Similarly, the investigation by Dejoy et al. (2004) argues that illness and injuries prevention programs are critical for creating safer work environments. Using similar understanding, Norton and Kobusingye (2013) established that healthcare facilities without illness and injuries prevention programs were likely to experience more errors from nurses as compared to those settings where the programs were implemented.

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The association between safer working environments and illness and injuries prevention program is evident in this study. In the first instance, studies support that illness and injury prevention programs are necessary for workplace safety. Secondly, studies show a direct correlation between illness and injuries programs and safety. Particularly, hospital settings that implemented illness and injuries programs reported increased work safety than those without the programs.

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Conclusion

Studies by researchers prove that injury and illness prevention programs are of immense importance in improving safety culture in healthcare establishments. A healthcare setting that has these programs in place exercises great safety culture and exhibits safer working environments. The implementation of these programs involves worker participation, management leadership, continuous program evaluation, and hazard identification and assessment. As evidenced by the study, health care settings are likely to exercise safety measures when providing care if there exists illness and injuries prevention programs. The benefit of these programs is that they seek to promote workplace safety, thereby mitigating the probability of injuries or illnesses occurrence in the workplace. In addition, they help cushion effects of injuries and illnesses, reducing cost and ineffectiveness of employees. Therefore, the overall benefits of illness and injuries programs are immense.

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