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Improving workplace safety


Improving workplace safety

The funding for the Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing at Harvard T.H. Chan School was recently renewed with a $6.5 million grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. South Carolina employers and employees may be interested to learn how the center is working to discover new ways to tackle the issues that affect workplace safety and health.

The center works with organizations and companies to enhance their programs, practices and policies concerning workers’ health, safety and welfare. One example is an initiative to improve the use of mobilization devices in patient care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The physical demands of frequently helping patients out of their beds in order to aid in their recovery can be difficult to sustain for hospital workers. To address this issue, the use of mechanical slings and lifts was incorporated into patients’ care plans, and the hospital staff was given time for training during work shifts. To make sure that the devices were in working order and available when they were required, new processes were developed. An evaluation conducted a year later showed that there was a decrease in injuries among the Brigham hospital staff.

The collaboration with hospitals in the Partners Healthcare system, which includes Brigham, is part of an exploration of the effects that job duties have on the health of patient care workers, including nurses. Research is also being conducted with the construction industry to create a program that will prevent injuries, curtail smoking habits and promote physical activity.

If a worker sustains an injury as a result of performing job duties, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation. An attorney will advocate for a client throughout the workers’ compensation claims process to ensure that a fair amount of compensation is obtained.