Employees Participating in Change: Empowerment Approach to Improving Staff Health, Safety and Wellness

By Andrea Baumann, Patricia Norman, Dina Idriss-Wheeler, Kaiyan Fu and Paul Rizk.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: October 1, 2015 $US5.00

This study focused on a participatory health and safety intervention implemented in a large urban long-term care center in Ontario, Canada. The Employees Participating in Change (EPIC) program is intended to reduce musculoskeletal disorders by providing staff with the tools and authority to make changes to enhance their work environment. The sample included employees from facility management, home support services, nursing and food services. Process evaluation was used to determine the success of EPIC at improving staff health, safety and wellness. Organizational safety climate, employee perception of risk and awareness of safe work practices were examined upon implementation and six months post implementation. Through the program, staff identified and enacted solutions to hazards that had potential for long-term injuries if left unchanged. They indicated that EPIC increased their awareness of their role and involvement in safety and strengthened the vision of the organization. Facilitators to program implementation included: dedicated, knowledgeable and committed staff and management, senior leadership support, strong communication, and a pre-existing safety climate. The study demonstrated that safety interventions should target high probability low severity hazards (i.e. repetitive bending, reaching, lifting, pushing, pulling motions) that have long-term consequences. Advancing employee health, safety and wellness through comprehensive empowerment programs can help mitigate workplace hazards and enhance the safety climate to positively influence patient care outcomes.

Keywords: Employee Participation, Health Safety, Wellness Intervention, Safety Climate, Musculoskeletal, Long-Term Care

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 5, Issue 4, December 2015, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: October 1, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 544.207KB)).

Dr. Andrea Baumann

Associate Vice-President of Global Health and the Scientific Director of the Nursing Health Services Research Unit (McMaster University site), Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Patricia Norman

Consultant, Nursing Health Services Research Unit, McMaster University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dina Idriss-Wheeler

Researcher, Nursing Health Services Research unit, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Kaiyan Fu