In response to the intention of the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia (WCB of BC) to eliminate made-in-BC occupational exposure limits (OELs) and adopt threshold limit values (TLVs), this study assessed the potential health impacts on healthcare workers (HCWs) of the proposed change, by (1) reviewing the processes used to establish the OELs and TLVs, (2) selecting of substances of health concern for HCWs, (3) identifying chemicals with discordances between existing OELs and the 2002 TLVs, and 4) reviewing the discordances and assessing the potential health implications. Differences in philosophies, policies and processes that influenced the setting of OELs and TLVs were substantial. The TLV process involves U.S. and international priorities; in BC, a tripartite committee determined OELs taking into consideration how OELs should be interpreted in the local context. 47 chemicals of concern to BC HCWs were discordant, with significant discordances totalling 57; 15 compounds had BC 8-hour OELs lower than their respective TLVs and three TLVs were lower than the 8-hour BC OELs. Review of six chemicals with discordances suggested a potential for increased risks of adverse health effects. Eliminating the local capacity and authority to set OELs is unlikely to cause major health problems in the short run, but as chemicals in use locally may not have up-to-date TLVs, eliminating the capacity for local considerations should be undertaken with great caution. While the WCB of BC did implement the change, the present report resulted in procedural changes that will provide better protection for the workforce.
The high rate of violence in the healthcare sector supports the need for greater surveillance efforts.
The purpose of this study was to use a province-wide workplace incident reporting system to calculate rates and identify risk factors for violence in the British Columbia healthcare industry by occupational groups, including nursing.
Data were extracted for a 1-year period (2004-2005) from the Workplace Health Indicator Tracking and Evaluation database for all employee reports of violence incidents for four of the six British Columbia health authorities. Risk factors for violence were identified through comparisons of incident rates (number of incidents/100,000 worked hours) by work characteristics, including nursing occupations and work units, and by regression models adjusted for demographic factors.
Across health authorities, three groups at particularly high risk for violence were identified: very small healthcare facilities [rate ratios (RR) = 6.58, 95% CI =3.49, 12.41], the care aide occupation (RR = 10.05, 95% CI = 6.72, 15.05), and paediatric departments in acute care hospitals (RR = 2.22, 95% CI = 1.05, 4.67).
The three high-risk groups warrant targeted prevention or intervention efforts be implemented. The identification of high-risk groups supports the importance of a province-wide surveillance system for public health planning.
The population of alternate level care (ALC) patients utilizing acute-care hospital resources inappropriate to their needs is growing. The purpose of this study was to explore how the care of ALC patients was managed at 4 acute-care facilities in the Canadian province of British Columbia and to examine how this care impacts on outcomes of staff injury. Interviews were conducted to identify and characterize the different models of ALC. Injury outcomes for all caregivers were obtained (n = 2,854) and logistic regression conducted to compare staff injuries across ALC models. Injured workers were surveyed regarding their perceptions of injury risk and ALC. Five ALC models were identified: low-mix, high-mix, dedicated ALC units, extended care units, and geriatric assessment units. The risk for caregiver injuries was lowest on dedicated ALC units. These findings suggest that acute-care facilities faced with a growing ALC population should consider creating dedicated ALC units.
The purpose of this study was to assess determinants of healthcare worker (HCW) self-reported compliance with infection control procedures. A survey was conducted of HCWs in 16 healthcare facilities. A strong correlation was found between both environmental and organizational factors and self-reported compliance. No relationship was found with individual factors. Only 5% of respondents rated their training in infection control as excellent, and 30% felt they were not offered the necessary training. We concluded that compliance with infection control procedures is tied to environmental factors and organizational characteristics, suggesting that efforts to improve availability of equipment and promote a safety culture are key. Training should be offered to high-risk HCWs, demonstrating an organizational commitment to their safety.
To investigate the effectiveness of a risk assessment system in reducing the risk of violence in an acute care hospital in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Hospital violence incident rates (number of incidents/100,000 work hours) were calculated and compared pre, during and post implementation of the Alert System, a violence risk assessment system, at one acute care hospital. Poisson regression models were used to examine the effect of the Alert System on hospital-level violent incident rates. Multivariable, conditional logistic regression was used to examine the effect of the Alert System on the individual-level risk of violent incidence using a case-control study.
The violent incident rate decreased during the Alert System implementation period only, but subsequently returned to pre-implementation levels. In the case-control analyses, the Alert flag was associated with an increased risk for a patient violent incident (odds ratio=7.74, 95% CI=4.81-12.47).
Although useful at identifying violent patients, the Alert System even though offered in conjunction with violence prevention training, does not appear to provide the resources or procedures needed by healthcare workers to prevent a patient from progressing to a violent incident once flagged. Violence in healthcare should be studied and prevented using a multifaceted approach.
Researchers and health and safety practitioners have advocated replacing manual patient handling techniques with ceiling lifts in long-term care. The majority of these studies have only evaluated the impact of fixed ceiling lifts on extended care residents where the ratio of ceiling lifts to resident beds is one to one. This pre-post intervention study assesses the effectiveness of portable ceiling lifts in a new multi-level care facility on risk of patient handling injuries where the ratio of ceiling lifts to resident beds is one to six. Results indicated that staff perceived they were at significantly (p
Large variations in staff injury rates across intermediate care facilities suggest that injuries may be driven by facility-specific work environment factors.
To identify work organization, psychosocial, and biomechanical factors associated with staff injuries in intermediate care facilities, to pinpoint management practices that may contribute to lower staff injuries, and to generate a provisional conceptual framework of work organization characteristics.
Four representative intermediate care facilities with high staff injury rates and four facilities with comparable low staff injury rates were selected from Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) databases. Methods included on-site injury data collection and review of associated WCB data, ergonomic study of workloads, a telephone survey of resident care staff, manager-staff interviews, and focus groups. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients identified associations between variables. Analysis of variance and t tests were used to determine differences between low and high staff injury rate facilities. Content analysis guided the qualitative analysis.
There were no significant differences between low and high staff injury rate facilities in terms of workers' characteristics, residents' characteristics, and per capita public funding. The ergonomic study supported the survey data in demonstrating a relation among low staffing levels, greater muscle loading, and greater risk of injury. As compared with facilities that had high staff injury rates, facilities with low staff injury rates had significantly more favorable staffing levels and supportive work environments. Perceived quality of care was strongly correlated with burnout, health, and satisfaction.
Safer work environments are promoted by favorable staffing levels, convenient access to mechanical lifts, workers' perceptions of employer fairness, and management practices that support the caregiving role.
A web-based questionnaire-survey was administered primarily to determine what information is useful to managers in Fraser Health, of British Columbia to support decision-making for workplace health and safety. The results indicated that managers prefer electronic quarterly reports, with targets, goals, and historical trends rated as "very important." Over 85.7% "agree" that if information was readily available in the "most beneficial" format, they would be able to improve workplace health. Recommendations include that managers be presented with clear and concise workplace health reports that facilitate analysis for decision-making.
Few incidence studies of workplace injuries among community health workers exist, and evidence regarding the effectiveness of interventions in this population is lacking.
To determine the incidence of workplace injury among community health workers in British Columbia; to identify predictors of injury; and to assess the effectiveness of a multicomponent intervention program in this population.
Data were collected from an intervention study of 648 community health workers from six agencies to calculate injury rates. Interventions included an education and training module, a risk assessment tool and resource guide, and a lift equipment registry.
The majority of injuries were attributed to overexertion and falls. Annual incidence rates were 20.7% for reported injuries, and 8.1% for time-loss injuries. A history of previous injuries and working full time were predictors of time to first injury report. Participants who received an intervention were significantly more likely to report workplace injuries than participants in the comparison group, but were less likely to incur a time-loss injury.
The interventions used in this study led to increased awareness and an increase in reported injuries but resulted in fewer time-loss injuries. The mechanisms that led to these findings need to be explored further.
In 1999, in British Columbia, Canada, the healthcare workforce, healthcare employers and unions partnered to develop the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH), a bipartite (labor-management)-governed organization with a mandate to implement evidence-based programs to reduce injury rates in health care. Within a year of its establishment, OHSAH began delivery of a province-wide joint committee education and development (JCED) program. A telephone survey after six months showed that the training program had modestly increased the establishment of new programs and had significantly increased positive health and safety behaviors and quality of JC functioning. The spirit of bipartite collaboration fostered by this and other OHSAH programs has been hugely successful at reducing injuries, time loss, and cost, and should be promoted.