Safe Handling Toolkit
Developing a Safe Handling program for your organization doesn’t have to be hard. It begins with five steps.
Step 1: Assess Your Organization
Creating a Safe Handling program begins with a conversation to better understand your organization’s overall safety culture. The culture of an organization plays a key part in any initiative. If you are looking to improve workplace health and safety at your organization, it’s very important to understand the state of your current workplace culture.
The Institute for Work & Health has a tool that will help you obtain a benchmark of your organization’s workplace safety culture. You can then use this survey to monitor perceived changes in your workplace’s safety culture as you implement changes. Make sure to capture a wide cross-section of staff when you survey for a more accurate picture.
Once you’ve completed the Institute for Work & Health’s survey, you can use SafeCare BC’s Workplace Health and Safety Culture Framework to help you and your colleagues reflect on the state of your organization’s safety culture.
To help with the assessment process, it is also necessary to identify factors in the workplace that may increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) for workers. This process involves identifying those factors that present a possible hazard for injury, and prioritizing which of these require further assessment, and then developing control measures to reduce the risk of injury.
Parts 4 and 5 of the It Doesn’t Have to Hurt Guide, created by the Occupational Health & Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC, provides guidelines for identifying the risk of MSIs and helping to determine what control measures should be implemented.
Step 2: Obtain Support from your Leadership Team
Once you have determined your organization’s safety culture and risk of injury, you will want to gain the support of your leadership team.
Visible leadership support is a very important step when implementing your program. It demonstrates that the organization values safe handling. Demonstrating leadership support can be done by providing resources and communicating the importance of safe handling.
Watch this short video to learn more about how a care operator in Yarmouth committed to implementing a safe handling program and ended up with a significant culture shift in the organization’s overall occupational health and safety program.
Step 3: Create and Implement a Policy and Program
Now that you’ve assessed the safety culture of your organization, performed a risk assessment, and obtained the support of your leadership team, you’re ready to develop and implement a Safe Handling Policy. And the reasons why are obvious.
Studies have clearly demonstrated that injury rates among care workers can be significantly reduced by increasing the use of mechanical lifts and restricting manual client handling by care workers.
Developing a Safe Handling policy
The successful implementation of a safe handling policy requires a varied approach that is unique to each organization. However, there are some key principles that should be incorporated into any approach to ensure its effectiveness, including: accessible and adequate handling equipment and a maintenance system for equipment. As such, this is the step of the toolkit that encourages you to review your equipment to ensure that it is meeting the necessary requirements.
Here we have two resources that will help you get started.
These resources were developed by SafeCare BC’s Technical Advisory Committee, which is comprised of union, WorkSafeBC, and employer representatives.
Step 4: Conduct Training
Training is an important step in your Safe Handling Program, as it provides frontline workers with the skills and information to help them perform their tasks more safely.
Like you, SafeCare BC is committed to helping reduce injury rates. That’s why we offer Safe Handling Train-the-Trainer courses. These two-day sessions include both a classroom and simulation component. Participants will receive further support through three, hour-long teleconferences following the in-person training. This course provides comprehensive training on safe handling best-practices, as well as coaching principles to support peer-led learning.
This train-the-trainer program means participants will take the training back to their organizations to teach others. We encourage those who act as safety champions, train others, or have roles in care planning to attend this session.
For more information on this program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WorkSafeBC has a collection of resources that you can use as part of your own in-house training program.
- Assess Every Time
- Patient Handling: Reduce the Risk
- Ceiling Lifts vs. Floor Lifts
- Weighing the Risks
Point of Care Risk Assessments are a key part of safe handling practices at the bedside. By doing this, the care provider can make sure that the resident or client’s ability matches the care plan.
For more information on the assessment, check out this short, interactive e-module developed by Interior Health and Northern Health that will help guide you on how to use the Point-of-Care Risk Assessment tool.
Learn how slider sheets can be used to safely and comfortably transfer residents through this short, interactive e-module developed by the Interior and Northern Health Authorities.
Step 5: Evaluate Your Program
Now that you have created your Safe Handling program, it’s important to evaluate the program.
You can use the Safe Handling Program Checklist to verify the components of a safe handling program, including development, management and staff involvement, needs assessments, equipment, education and training, and evaluation. This will help you identify what aspects are working well and what aspects may need more attention. The checklist should be completed at regular intervals to ensure ongoing program quality improvement.
Looking for more information to evaluate your program? Access the Provincial Safe Resident Handling Standards for Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention in BC.
These standards cover a range of areas including policy, management strategies, education and training, equipment, and safe work practices for high risk resident handling activities (e.g. transfers, ambulation, toileting)
Page 45 of this document also provides a Gap Analysis checklist, which allows you to assess your organization’s current process, systems, and practices against the provincial standard. The checklist is designed to help identify opportunities of improvement, as well as highlight achievements your organization has made to date.