Home Healthcare Safety Hazards That May Leave You Liable

Home Healthcare Safety Hazards That May Leave You LiableHome healthcare workers are an essential component of the healthcare industry. They provide essential long-term service to patients who are unable to care for themselves.

However, the healthcare worker and his/her employer have little control over the working environment, which means the following safety hazards are quite common.

1. Patient handling and lifting – This is one of the leading causes of home healthcare worker injuries. Care providers routinely lift and transfer patients and perform repetitive tasks. Managers should carefully train staff in proper lifting techniques and encourage them to never lift beyond their means. Assistive devices (draw sheet, rollers, mechanical hoists, slide boards, etc.) are the most effective ways to ensure care providers aren’t injuring themselves. Insist these devices are used whenever necessary.    

2. Infection, blood borne pathogen and disease – While home healthcare workers are trained to carefully use and dispose of all medical equipment, patients and their families may not be so responsible. The care provider may come in contact with improperly stored or maintained medical equipment (including needles) that pose a risk of infection or disease transference. Furthermore, proper disposal may not even be possible in the home.

3. The patients’ environments – Falls and slips are one of the most common causes of injury to home healthcare workers. Each environment is new and many are unmaintained due to the patient’s challenged health. Managers should train home healthcare workers to be mindful of dangers and avoid potential hazards. If an environment is truly unsafe, it must be remedied before care can be provided.

4. Documentation – Thorough and accurate documentation is an extremely important part of healthcare. Paperwork errors are common among home healthcare workers who spend time in environment that don’t lend themselves to administrative tasks. Care providers should ensure they take the time to diligently complete their records and follow documented processes so they can defend their care if necessary.

5. Animals and pets – Interacting with animals is a common part of home healthcare work. There is always the risk of bites, scratches, and allergic reactions. Even the most placid pet may feel threatened with a stranger in his territory. Healthcare providers should avoid contact with pets entirely until they have developed a relationship with the pets.

6. Unsanitary conditions – It’s not uncommon for patients with serious health challenges to live in unsanitary environments. Healthcare workers may come in contact with termites, scabies, rodents, bedbugs, and other unsanitary elements that containment medical equipment and supplies. Employers should train healthcare workers on how to avoid unsanitary conditions and, if necessary, recognize if an environment is acceptable for working. Agencies should consider having a process in place to connect patients with resources that could help them change their conditions to ensure health care workers can continue helping the patient(s).

7. Transportation – Naturally, home healthcare workers spend considerable time on the road exposed to all of the hazards one would expect. Employers need clear policies that outline safety guidelines (wear seat belts, no electronic devices, etc.) and administer driving safety training.

To begin building your organization’s safety policy for home healthcare workers, I encourage you to browse through OSHA’s resources, or give me a call to discuss some of Sinclair’s Risk Management resources.  With proper training and documentation, you can protect your organization from serious liability.

Heather Sinclair
Risk Management Consultant

Home Healthcare Safety Hazards That May Leave You Liable

15 Summertime Safety Tips You Shouldn’t Ignore

15 Summertime Safety Tips You Shouldn’t IgnoreSummer is officially here along with the glaring sun and balmy temperatures. Some of us have jobs that put us out in the sun. Many of us are just excited to spend weekends in the fresh air.

However, fu in the sun can turn dangerous quickly if you aren’t prepared. Here are some summertime safety tips to keep you (and your loved ones) safe this summer.

1. Even “safe” fireworks (like sparklers) can reach up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the professionals run firework displays and keep all observers a safe distance away.

2. To avoid insect bites, stay away from places where insects congregate, like pools of stagnant water, untended foliage and trash heaps. Don’t wear floral prints or fragrances. If you have to be near bugs, where long clothing to prevent bites and apply an insect repellent that contains DEET.

3. After time outside, check yourself for ticks. Look everywhere on your body. Look out for the signs of Lyme disease: headaches, bulls-eye rash, joint pain and fatigue.

4. Never leave pets inside a closed vehicle unless the air conditioning is running. Even with the windows open, the glass in your car amplifies the sun’s heat. Children should never be left in the car – regardless if the windows are open or the air conditioning is on.

5. Learn how to identify Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac, and stay away from them. If you’re exposed, wash with rubbing alcohol, then soap and water.

6. If you’re bringing perishable food in a cooler, keep the food safe by packing the cooler full and including ice packs. Keep them in the shade with their lids closed.

7. Grill food on a clean grill surface, with clean utensils and clean hands. Do not leave perishable food exposed in the heat.

8. Wear sunscreen no matter how long you plan to be in the sun and reapply often. It should be at least SPF 15. Avoid the sun’s rays between 11 AM and 3 PM. Wear tightly woven cotton clothing and wide-brimmed hats.

9. Never leave children unattended around water. Adults should take dedicated turns watching the children, otherwise a disaster may happen while everyone assumes someone else is watching.

10. Even though it’s summer, it’s possible to catch hypothermia if you spend too much time in cold water. Look out for blue lips and shivering.

11. Don’t let children under 16 operate lawn mowers. Make sure to use a mower that stops when the handle is released. Scan the lawn for throw-able objects before mowing and always wear sturdy shoes.

12. Always wear protective gear (including helmets) whenever you’re riding a skateboard, bicycle, or rollerblades.

13. If you can’t avoid the heat, reduce activities that would heat up your body, like running, biking, or strenuous chores. Do these activities in the early morning or late evening.

14. Drink plenty of water long before you’re thirsty. Avoid caffeine, sodas, and alcohol, which can all dehydrate you.

15. When you’re working, driving or playing outside, the heat can be dangerous. The first sign to look out for is cramping in your legs. This leads to heavy sweating and lightheadedness, which is called heat exhaustion. It can progress to heat stroke, which is when your body is too hot to cool itself. You’ll feel lethargic and sluggish, have red skin, feel confused and dizzy, have a rapid pulse, and might have an actual stroke. Put ice on the neck, armpits and groin, and call a doctor.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have a safe and pleasant summer.

Rachel Winslow
Account Executive


Beyond the Bonus: Powerful Ways to Reward Your Employees

Beyond the Bonus: Powerful Ways to Reward Your EmployeesA company or organization can only achieve success through the hard work and dedication of its employees. Those employees need to feel motivated and empowered to produce excellent work. 
Finding ways to inspire employees is one of the challenges of today’s managers. The conventional solution is to throw money at the problem in the form of bonuses. The best managers know how to lead without writing checks. Plus, in today’s economic climate, rewarding employees with cash is tough for many businesses. 
Creating a compelling incentive for an employee (or an offer to a candidate) doesn’t have to be centered around pay. Here are some powerful ways you can reward your employees (and boost their happiness and loyalty) without writing bonus checks.  
Public Appreciation
Saying “thank you” behind closed doors is well and good, but we’re social animals that like others to know about our accomplishments. Find ways to acknowledge your employees in public forums, like company newsletters, meetings, or memos. Make sure to document exactly what the employee did above his or her job so you set the standard for others to excel as well.
Employment Perks
Perks are simple ways to make the workplace a bit more comfortable for your employees. Things like free coffee and snacks, free lunch, or even elaborate benefits like a daycare facility or pick-up dry cleaning are excellent ways to make your staff feel like the company is taking care of them. Furthermore, an employee perceives the value of these perks higher than they actually cost you. (For example, an employee values a bottle of water at $2 because that’s what they would pay, but you pay less by buying in bulk for the office.)
Flexible Schedules
For many people, a flexible schedule that can adapt to their lives is worth more than money. A schedule they can adjust within reason may reduce their time spent in traffic, save a few dollars with their daycare provider, or give them a chance to spend more time with their spouse. When work stops being an obstacle in their life, you greatly improve their happiness. 
Opportunities to Develop
Career-minded people are always looking for ways to improve their resumes and skill sets. Give high-performing individuals the tools they need by investing in their education through classes and conferences. Place them in positions of authority and responsibility within your company where they can lead others and improve professionally. Not only will this help your employee grow, but it also strengthens their commitment to your company.
Ask Your Employees
Before doling out what you think your employees want, ask them directly how you can help them do their job better, improve productivity, and improve their work/life balance. You might be surprised at what they find valuable. 
Shannon Hudspeth
Human Resource Director
Why your business needs a wellness program

Does a Healthcare Agency Need Marketing and Sales Teams?

Does a Healthcare Agency Need Marketing and Sales Teams?Marketing is changing every day. Once, patients would choose their healthcare provider by location. Whichever clinic, hospital, doctor’s office or nursing home was closest was the one that got their business. But tools like Google, YELP, Facebook and numerous health care agency review websites allow patients to quickly compare services, medical staff credentials, and comments from former patients.

The Pew Research Center found that “77% of online health seekers say they began their last session [for medical information] at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Another 13% say they began at a site that specializes in health information, like WebMD.”

Consumers have access to a wealth of information. They no longer have to take a doctor or nurses’ word as truth. They can double check and evaluate. This forces healthcare providers to operate with more transparency. Did a nurse write something inaccurate? Did a doctor respond without empathy? Consumers can learn about these flaws and mistakes before ever setting foot in an office.

Furthermore, there has been a substantial shift in the healthcare industry. The health insurance exchanges created from the Affordable Care Act have created a shift toward consumer-driven healthcare. As more employees untether their healthcare from their employment, healthcare agencies lack a guaranteed customer base. This forces them to compete.

Dodging regulations and fighting off litigation has become so taxing that many healthcare providers are giving up. Their profit margins are smaller than ever and competition has become fierce. In order to be successful and achieve sustainable growth, healthcare organizations must employ strong marketing and sales strategies.

Healthcare marketing is more than slapping together a website and buying Yellow Pages ads (p.s. – we don’t encourage buying yellow page ads any more!). It’s discovering and meeting the needs and wants of patients, and using this knowledge to create high-value healthcare products. This type of marketing means analyzing products to make improvements, adjusting pricing to sustainable levels, promoting to the right people at the right time, and (most importantly) maintaining a connection with past patients so they return for their future healthcare needs.

To stay relevant, healthcare organizations must listen to their customers and adapt. Healthcare marketers gather data from patients after the care has been provided to improve the service.

Many professionals view “sales” as a dirty word; something sleazy and manipulative. But at its heart, sales is about making the consumer aware of something’s value. For example, if a doctor believed a patient should have a knee replacement, but the patient was reluctant, the doctor would focus on the benefits of the procedure: less pain, more mobility, fun with grandchildren, etc.

Salespersons are part of healthcare organizations to carefully explain the value of their products. A nursing home would explain the benefits of their facility while assuring a family that their loved one is in good care. A dentistry office would convince parents that their child needs braces because there are serious social and career ramifications of having crooked teeth. A salesperson may also arrange partnerships with other healthcare organizations to provide extended products and services to their patients.

With strong marketing and sales strategies in place (executed by competent teams), healthcare organizations will be able to compete in the new age of consumer-drive, information-rich medical care.

Heather Sinclair
Risk Management Consultant

Does a Healthcare Agency Need Marketing and Sales Teams?

Managing Home Renovation Risks

Managing Home Renovation RisksHome renovations are on the rise; In fact, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), annual home improvement spending growth is expected to increase from 2.4% in the last quarter of 2015 to 6.8% in the second quarter of 2016.  Bolstered by 2015’s favorable housing market condition, which included new construction, price gains and sales, homeowners are investing in improvements to their homes.

If you’re finally tackling that kitchen remodel or adding an in-law suite, don’t wait to think about the risks that come with home renovations.  Here are four tips to make sure you’re protected before your project even gets underway:

  • Vet Your Contractor & Subcontractors – Take your time choosing a general contractor, who orchestrates your entire project.  Beyond just word-of-mouth and online reviews, ask to speak with former clients who had similar renovation projects and check the contractor’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau.  As you’re choosing your general contractor, also be sure to get their license number and verify it.  Additionally, ask to see a copy of their insurance policy (and don’t be afraid to call their carrier) and make sure they have adequate coverage, including worker’s compensation to cover any workers who could be hurt on the job.  Beyond coverage, also make sure you’re aware of everyone who will be working in your home every day and, if needed, run background checks. 
  • Get It In Ink – Didn’t think through the removal and disposal of your old appliances?  Don’t rely on verbal agreements or side conversations for any aspect of your renovation.  Make sure you get an estimate and proposed contract from your general contractor before the project begins and that everything is covered, including the timeline, payment details and how you’ll address approvals and any unexpected projects and costs. 
  • Check Your Coverage - Contact your insurance agent to talk through your renovation and make sure you understand your coverage.  If there are any gaps in coverage for your contractor or subcontractors, make sure speak with your insurance agent about that as well, as you may need to extend the limits of liability in your homeowners policy. 
  • Protect Your (New) Investment –If you’re adding onto your home, don’t wait until it’s complete to increase the insurance coverage on the structure of your home, as you may not be covered if the addition is destroyed or damaged before your coverage has increased.  Similarly, if you purchase new items like that baby grand piano you’ve been wanting or new TVs or furniture to fill your new space, also make sure you let your insurance agent know in case you need to increase your coverage for personal possessions.

A home renovation can be financially and emotionally stressful.  However, at Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we’re here to help ensure you’re protected and covered and starting your renovation on a solid foundation.

Stephen Davis


Sinclair Risk& Financial Management

Managing Home Renovation Risks