BY PHILIP NANA ASANTE
AN INTERNATIONAL LabourOrganisation (ILO) global statistical report saysthere are about 270 million occupational accidents as well as 160 million occupational diseases recorded every year, while around two million deaths occur every year through occupational accidents and diseases.
It is morally, legally and economically right for employers to protect their employees, clients and all other people who are found in their place of work and/or are affected by their actions.
It is equally the right and responsibility of every employee, visitor and all other people found in any workplace to co-operate with the employer to enable them to fulfil their obligations of ensuring standard workplace practices concerning health, safety, welfare, environment and security.
This is in accordance with Article 16 of the ILO Convention and recommendations, among other issues of standards.
Hospitals and other minor health institutions also form part of workplaces, and so, all persons found in these institutions,including employees, patients and their relatives who assist them to these facilities, visitors and service providers in these outfits are protected and for that matter safe in all their dealings.
Health facilities are aimed at providing total health to all patients who call in for their services and also protect all persons found there, since they also form part of workplaces.
However, the story is different with Ghana health facilities. It is common practice to count many hazards and risks in these institutions.
Standard requirementsat workplace Itis good for health institutions to have trained wellbeing personnel to educate all health facility staff particularlyon personal safety and security issues since their services form part of high risk occupations.
Some of their hazards are violence and assault from patients or dead persons’ relatives, etc.
They must also receive enough training on how to protect themselves and others from abduction since health facilities always have ” open door” policies.
It is also good practice for permanent emergency service providers trained on apparel style, especially regarding foot wear, to reduce their high exposure to risks such as slips, trips and injuries due to the quick actions taken in relation to the aggressive nature of some emergency ill-health persons.
Better and adequate patients handling equipment, such as slid sheets, transfer boards, wheelchairs, handling belts, and trolleys are also required for health service delivery.
Emergency, equipment, training,information and control measures are important to both staff and other persons. General health facility conditions must always be safe enough to protect all persons and not just its staff. Among them ill-health persons, their relatives, visitors and any other persons such as service providers who come to the outfits.
These persons should be provided with all the appropriate information required by them.
Treatments to ill-health persons in hospital Ill-health persons should have suitable ground to walk with ease, access to hygienic toilets and urinals, the opportunity to both steps, ramps and escalator, if need be.
They also need to receive every detailed information about their health conditions, further implications for their health, type of treatments required, personal medicament implications and personal consent.
Since ill-health persons become vulnerable and fragile irrespective of one’s stature, it is always appropriate and obligatory for health facilities to have reasonably practicable infrastructure design, as well as easy and safe access that will meet the requirement of these clients.
Again ill-health persons in any health facility have the right to be served with the food appropriate for their conditions and not otherwise.
They have every right to ask any questions and must receive right answers without any intimidation. Intimidations in our health facilities nowadays have become common practice, especially within units such as emergency centres and maternity and labour wards.
However, without ill-health personshealth workers must stay home or change their profession, so it is good for health workers to treat their clients safely.
When one is pregnant, for instance, she turns to be like a young person, and for that matter weak; likewise those at the delivery point who also become traumatized, so they have to be assisted for safe delivery without any physical or psychological injury to them. Also, they have to be treated well during these stages.
This is very paramount because in any different workplaces ill-health persons, pregnant women and nursing mothers need to receive preferential treatments, so how much less their own legal service institutions?
Other important reasons why health facilities must have trained wellbeing experts in their workplaces are that they always serve as emergency marshals to assist these vulnerable persons, especially to escape danger and take refuge at emergency assembly point.
Required treatment of ill-health persons relatives, visitors and others It is always safe foranyone who assists or accompanies any ill-health person to be given all appropriate information, instructions and directions about medications and prescription conditions, and accept personal private information to the ill-health person, to help reduce the risks of post-health service prescriptions error to save lives.
To help avoid or reduce basic and complex ill-health infections to ill-health persons’relations and visitors via cross-contaminations of microorganisms, it will be very prudent for health facilities to have wellbeing personnel to also educate and advise these persons during visiting hours from ward to ward on potential way of disinfecting their bodies after providing services to their ill-health relatives.
Other persons apart from aforementioned groups All other persons who visit health facilities for any other good purposes shouldbe provided with all necessary wellbeing control measures to protect them from any harm, since it is the duty of the management to do so.
Assessments In Ghana, one can attest to the fact that many of these hazards and risks can be counted in most of our major and minor health facilities.
However, little has been done to change or control these grave situations. However, a sampling survey conducted in Achimota Hospital has proven otherwise. Current health, safety, welfare, environment and security standards of Achimota Hospital Achimota Hospital has been found to be providing good services and is being used as the case study for the discussion on assessment.
A sampling survey recently conducted in above facility covered all the business service areas and findings provedgreater improvements and achievements within workplace health, safety, welfare,environment and security matters. These improvements were realized as results of better management and leadership policy directions as well as effective employee commitments.
These include better infrastructure modifications, such as provisions of ramps to steps, better fanlight provision at the OPD to admit enough natural day light, well-designed structures to provide enough cross-ventilations, safe positioning of seats and staffdesks, averagely hygienic toilet and urinal facilities, safe positioning of beds in the wards, provision of information desk and suggestion boxes, enough fire extinguishers and emergency information and cautions notes. Other good service practices include better and multiple channels of information disseminationto patient and their relations regarding all the needed attention, consent seeking before any service provision to a patient, better human relations by nurses, paramedics, clerical staff, anesthetists,pharmacists,laboratory staff, kitchen staff and medical doctors.
The facility has a healthy and attractive landscaping within its entire area with reasonable pedestrian walkways well designed. It also has enough consultation rooms with serious expert medical doctors to assist in reducing time spent withpatients.
Majority of the staff use safety belt when driving and the facility can also boast an emergency assembly point.
General and medical waste management principlesare applied safely in this facility via waste classification procedure of segregating hazardous from non-hazardous waste.
Service personnel of Achimota Hospital mostly adopt the personal protective equipment donning rules to protect themselves and others from hazardous infections. Reasonable noise level within their proximity is achieved.
Food, fruits and general provision vendors within the facility’s vehicular park conduct all their businesses reasonably practicable by average health, safety and environment standards.
Vehicular route to the facility is standard and the stationed taxi drivers within the facility conduct themselves well.
Another attractive and motivated good practice that can found in Achimota Hospital is that during high management meetings on Monday mornings between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.,nurses are assigned to sensitize and educate both patient and those accompanying them on issues such as the need for medication compliance, basic preventive ill-health measures, and personal hygiene lifestyle among others, while waiting for doctors to return from their meetings. Stand-by doctors are always available during this meeting period for emergency response duties.
Bad practices and challenges within Achimota Hospital Among unsafe practices and challenges in the facility are the absence of the long-awaited pedestrian footbridge across the major Achimota-Legon road, lack of permanent ambulance services to the hospital, ineffective of pedestrian gate usage, bad positioning of information desk to reduce main entrance space and bad nature of the route to transport patients on trolleys from the theatre to the main wards.
Another critical challenge to Achimota and almost all the health facilities in Ghana is lack of safety personnel within these institutions to advise and guard both clients and employees on safety matters and also assist the vulnerable during an emergency.
Conclusions It is reasonably and practicably good to always commend any health institution that promotes good working culture, especially in the areas mentioned to help motivate and also encourage others who fail to work within standards.
To this end, the Medical Director,management,doctors,nurses and entire employees of Achimota Hospital need to be commended for such great achievements. The writer is a health, safety and environmentexpert and consultant.