Sun Country strives to improve workplace safety

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Health facilities in the Sun Country Health Region are making improvements in workplace safety, but there is still a long ways to go to reach the goals the health region has set for themselves, the board of trustees were told at their monthly board meeting on Wednesday.


One of the goals for health care workers is to reduce Workmen Compensation Board (WCB) claims for employees who are injured on the job, said Dean Biesenthal, vice-president of human resources for Sun Country.


There were 143 WCB claims last year, and the health region has been averaging around 143-145 claims a year for the last three or four years, said Biesenthal, noting this year started on the same track with 33 WCB cases filed in the first three months of the year. The numbers decreased in the second quarter of the year to 10, which puts the region on track to a reduced number for the year if they can continue that way.


The goal for Sun Country is for a 25 per cent reduction in WCB claims, with a goal of less than 25 per cent of incidents resulting in harm, and 18 per cent of incidents reported classified as “near misses” or a “good catch”. The goal for near misses in July was 12 per cent, and currently Sun Country is at 15.4 per cent.


On Sept. 18-20, management met with the staff at every facility in Sun Country and went over their records for workplace safety, with eight out of 31 teams scoring all green, indicating they met their target goals of reducing the number of staff injuries and patient injuries. One team had all red, indicating there are many areas of concern they need to work on, said Biesenthal.


In a survey of patients, families and staff, 100 per cent of them felt comfortable enough to “stop the line”, which is to speak up if they see something that they feel might cause harm.


“I’m excited that we’re seeing a decrease in incidents causing harm. There are still areas of improvement, but we’re getting there,” said Biesenthal.


One area where there has been improvements seen is in the number of sick leaves by employees, with a 21 per cent reduction overall. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan has seen the biggest reduction of 85 per cent, which is a savings of almost $100,000 for that facility alone.


There has also been improvement in the number of falls by patients in long-term care facilities. With each fall that is rated as a code 3, a root cause analysis is done to determine the reason for the incident. This is also done for all WCB claims that are code 3 or 4 incidents. In July, there were nine code 3 or 4 staff and patient safety incidents, and all were investigated for the root cause.

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