Hospital staff injuries in the spotlight

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Falling off a toilet, accidentally sticking themselves with a used needle, and running into a parked truck are all injuries Whanganui Hospital staff members sustained this year.

There were 13 workplace injuries reported on the hospital incident database for May, according to a Health and Safety report presented to Whanganui District Health Board members this week.

A break down of the incidents showed one happened when a staff member was rushing outside on her lunch break and hit her head on a parked laundry truck.

Another happened when a Te Awhina employee had to get in between two aggressive clients and received "whiplash" when pushed.

One incident, where a patient was unhappy about his dietician's advice and threatened to punch them in the face, did not involve an injury but was reported in the database.

Another employee hit their head on a shelf while checking a placenta bucket in the maternity ward.

Incidents relating to patients have dropped significantly, but incidents relating to handling objects and beds and reaching things and stretching and that sort of matter have gone up
Acting CEO Brian Walden

Data showed the highest number of staff injuries were "manual handling" injuries, which included moving patients, dealing with equipment, and restraining patients.

A number of injuries were caused when the staff member was twisting or reaching.

Since January, the patient manual handling programme has been rolled out to all clinical staff.

Board member Judith MacDonald asked what percentage of those injured had undertaken training in the last 12 months around safer work practices such as manual handling training and managing escalating situations training.

Acting chief executive Brian Walden said only one of the injured staff members had received training.

"Incidents relating to patients have dropped significantly, but incidents relating to handling objects and beds and reaching things and stretching and that sort of matter have gone up," he said.

Board member Kate Joblin asked what programmes the hospital offered "in terms of wellness and exercise" to help with such injuries or the prevention of them.

Human resources and organisational development manager Hentie Cilliers said yoga classes are offered, and health board staff have certain benefits at "most gyms in town".

He also said staff members who were off work for more than five days due to an injury were put on a "return to work programme", normally led by an occupational therapist, which would involve monitoring before they were put back on their usual duties.

Manual handling injuries have gone from 15 reported in July-December 2013 to 26 reported in January-June 2016. Aggression and harassment issues have risen from nine in the earlier period to 14 in the last period.

There was only one incident of being struck or bumped by something in the earlier period, but 10 in the last. This number has fluctuated in the in between periods, however.

Motor vehicle accidents have dropped from four to one.

The report said the Whanganui District Health Board would be introducing a formal risk assessment process, and would be working to establish it over the next month.

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