Promoting safety in the workplace

A big part of ‘looking after others’ – the patients/clients you care for, the people who live with, visit and accompany them and the colleagues you work with – is looking after your workplace. People can’t remain healthy in unhealthy and unsafe environments.

Many health care settings are now part of national and international initiatives to promote workplace health. The Health Promoting Hospitals Network of the World Health Organization, for instance, recognises the importance of workplaces as settings for promoting the health of service users and service providers.

There are many things you can do that will help to make your workplace safer and healthier. You can, for instance:

  • make sure you keep your working environment clean and tidy, using your organisation’s cleaning guidelines
  • keep equipment and furnishings safely stored when not in use and remove trailing electric cables from floors
  • report damaged equipment, floor coverings and lights immediately
  • always follow your organisation’s waste-disposal stream policies, particularly with sharps
  • clean away spillages immediately, using approved procedures and personal protective equipment if necessary (you will find out about waste-disposal streams and personal protective equipment in the Health, Safety and Security section of the resource).

It’s a bit different, of course, if you work in community health services and your ‘workplace’ is patients’/clients’ homes. You have no authority to enter a patient’s/client’s home and start to reorder the furnishings to make for a safer environment! You do have a responsibility, though, to think ‘safety’ when you are in their homes. You can advise them on how, for instance, a slight change to the bedroom furniture arrangement might make it easier for the person to get to the toilet overnight, or how loose floor fittings and rugs present a risk of tripping.

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