The Tie Between Worker Safety and Patient Care

Monday, December 21, 2015


I recently attended The Leapfrog Group’s “Living the Vision” 15th Anniversary Gala & Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.  The Gala featured Paul O’Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury and former CEO and Chairman of Alcoa.
 
Mr. O’Neill started his speech by reminiscing about the first speech he gave as the CEO of Alcoa in October 1987. He selected his topic to be worker safety.  At the time, there were 1.86 lost work days as a result of a work-related injury or illness per 100 workers at Alcoa.  He realized that was costing his company a lot of money; therefore he focused on reducing this metric.

During his 13-year tenure at Alcoa, lost work days per 100 were reduced to 0.2 and the annual net income was five times higher than when he started.  In 2012, the metric was 0.125.  His work positively affected the culture of Alcoa.

According to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), in 2011, hospitals had 6.8 lost work days as a result of a work-related injury or illness per 100 workers.  This metric does not include patient injuries, just workers. Working in a hospital is dangerous.

Typically, we think of the manufacturing or construction industries as being the most dangerous types of work.  In 2001, hospitals surpassed them.  In 2011, both those industries had fewer than 5.2 lost work days as a result of a work-related injury or illness per 100 workers.

The metrics above are for the workers.  Alcoa produced objects.  Worker safety does not have a direct impact on how a product is cared for or produced.  Yet, hospitals care for humans... and worker safety has a direct correlation to the care of humans.

References
1) https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hospitals/
2) https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hospitals/documents/1.2_Factbook_508.pdf

 
Ashley Tait-Dinger 12/21/2015

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