Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Health Care Unions

Total Health and Workplace Safety

Northwest Team Spreads Success, Boosts Safety

alt="Five members of the safety department."

Members of the NW Employee Health and Safety Department: (left to right) Brian Cekoric, Robert Wieking, Susan Gager, Chris Mozingo, RN, and Paulette Hawkins, RN

A unified approach, and a competitive challenge, pay off

It’s one thing to identify effective practices in an issue as important as workplace safety. It’s another to educate and engage teams in adopting a consistent set of practices across a region.

The Northwest’s Employee Health and Safety Department has done just that—and earned program-wide recognition for its approach.

In November 2012, the department’s Labor Management Partnership Workplace Safety team issued a challenge to the region’s 16 facility safety committees. The committees, established to help identify and resolve safety issues at the facility level, often differed in their approach and results. The safety challenge provided a fun way for the local committees to get to know more employees in their facilities, follow a consistent protocol and improve safety.

Challenging teams to step up

“The Safety Awareness Challenge provides safety committees an opportunity to work together with their labor, management and Permanente partners to effect real change around workplace safety,” says Chris Mozingo, RN, workplace safety labor consultant for the NW Region.

The yearlong campaign challenged each facility to:

  • submit monthly or quarterly safety meeting minutes, to help keep their work on track
  • have physicians and dentists attend at least 80 percent of their facility’s safety meetings, to ensure widespread participation and leadership (nonclinical departments were asked to send representatives to each meeting)
  • promote safety conversations (a blame-free approach for observing work practices) and ensure at least 25 percent of employees are trained to lead such conversations
  • adopt and promote safety awareness plans to help teams identify and correct at least three different workplace hazards (for instance, trips and falls or sprains and strains)
  • host a safety fair, safety barbeque or other facility event within the year

“The Safety Committee Challenge goes beyond recognizing achievement. It fosters and reinforces the relations between Regional Safety, management and frontline staff,” says Employee Health and Services Safety Specialist II Brian Cekoric.

Getting results, recognition

Nine facilities completed the safety challenge by meeting each of the five established criteria. These efforts helped the Northwest region—already a leader in some key measures of workplace safety—record a 4 percent decrease in injury rates compared with the previous year. Teams that met the challenge will receive additional funding to support safety awareness promotions in their facilities.

For its part, the Northwest Employee Health and Safety team won the 2013 National Workplace Safety Award for its work in engaging frontline teams.

“The simple focus on injury prevention and raising awareness goes a long way to changing the culture of safety,” says Rob Weiking, Employee Heath and Services program manager.

The Safety Committee Challenge goes beyond recognizing achievement. It fosters and reinforces the relations between Regional Safety, management and frontline staff.

Brian Cekoric
Employee Health and Services Safety Specialist II
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