May 5-11, 2019 was North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH). Created to highlight the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, this week is an opportunity to inform and raise the awareness of employees on a number of health and safety issues.
Actionmarguerite strives to promote a safe work environment through prevention and training strategies. During NAOSH, workplace safety activities were held in the residences with the aim of educating staff about prevention and maintaining collaborative efforts to make safety a habit.
To prevent potential occupational accidents, Actionmarguerite established a workplace health and safety committee. Rachid Marrakchi, Manager at Actionmarguerite St. Vital, is involved in the initiative: “The committee consists of representatives from different areas and all department branches as well as managers. We meet every three months.”
Ahead of those meetings, the representatives hold safety meetings in each unit. “It gives us feedback and helps us find ways to fix what isn’t working. We ask staff if there are any safety issues that they would like to see addressed at the meeting. Whenever a problem comes us, we talk about it and try to find a solution.”
Actionmarguerite staff do their best to comply with and apply safety precautions to reduce the risk of injury in their day-to-day activities. “I was a nurse for ten years,” says Rachid Marrakchi. “We are very strict about procedures. We follow very specific protocols for transporting residents or in the event of an epidemic.”
One of the main causes of workplace injuries for nurses is resident transfers. “The number of injuries is quite high. However, we now have a program that helps employees return to work as quickly as possible.”
The new gentle and persuasive approach is also an attempt at a solution. “I think that this approach can reduce injuries. As nurses, we always keep in mind that if residents don’t want to do something, we need to take our lead from them. They have the right to decide. It is therefore a good idea to apply this in all departments in the residences.
The same principle applies in the kitchen, where safety is the top priority. “We must constantly be aware of the machines being used,” says Tuan Pham, head cook at Actionmarguerite St. Vital, who also sits on the committee. “We have alarm systems, but we work with earplugs and an occupational medical officer comes once a year to administer a hearing test to all kitchen staff.
The floor must also be swept and wiped down regularly, and a carbon monoxide detector was installed to warn of any potential leaks. “It’s one of the greatest concerns in kitchen safety. The detectors we installed are not battery operated. They are connected in the kitchen and will still work even in a power outage.”
Some 25 to 30 people work in the kitchens at Actionmarguerite St. Vital. “There are three or four people in the kitchen for each sitting, and three or four doing the serving and cleaning. Only trained and certified staff can use the knives, which are stored in a safe place. Overall, we are pleased with Actionmarguerite’s concern for employee safety and the steps taken by the administration so that we can work in a safe environment. Knowing that we are safe when we come in to work benefits both the employees and residents.”