As a therapy provider, your staff must be educated on how to effectively monitor and ensure the safety of the gym’s residents, patients, visitors, and other team members. It is a potential liability of exposure for your gym should a resident or patient sustain a new injury while in your care. 

Residents and patients recovering from surgery, fractures, etc., are especially vulnerable to slips, trips, and falls. Frequently remind staff to carefully watch these residents and patients throughout their time in the gym or when working with them in their rooms to identify potential risk factors, such as a resident being too weak to continue their exercise program or a sudden drop in their blood sugar. Carefully set up the gym so that your residents and patients can easily navigate through without incident. Ensure that equipment, as well as furniture, is placed to prevent trip and fall hazards. 

For your staff members, educate them that at least 20% or more of therapy staff suffer from musculoskeletal disorders that come from the constant lifting or reaching for residents or patients during their treatment sessions. Any staff member that sustains an injury while on the job could result in a worker’s compensation case. Therefore, your mitigation strategy needs to ensure the safety of your employees. 

Encourage the use of mechanical lifting equipment or slide boards to reduce the need for lifting for staff members. When they must lift, educate them on evaluating the lift first. Teach them to bend their knees, using their arm and leg muscles, and keep their back straight. The use of smooth and steady lifting motions is a must, and instruct them to avoid lifting or reaching when working above their shoulder level. Teach them the avoidance of awkward postures and twisting while lifting, as well as keeping items they are lifting close to their body. Remind them not to sit or stand for long periods of time and to take their breaks as scheduled. We all need rest periods, and ask them to always ask for help in advance when they think they might need it. 

OSHA regulations state that color codes, posters, labels, or signs must be visible to warn residents, patients, and staff about potential hazards. All equipment used for exercise should have clear instructions for their use displayed. If your equipment is missing its instructions for proper usage, make your own and post it in a visible location near the equipment. Suppose you have a kitchen or bathroom used for providing therapy services; wiping up spills as soon as they happen is essential. If you are working on bathroom skills, ensure that there are correctly mounted grab bars for your residents to hold onto and an emergency call light for those needing quick assistance.   

When you have a resident, patient, or visitor event or an employee accident, it is essential to follow the proper reporting processes as soon as possible. All incidents or accidents should have a report filled out immediately or no more than 24 hours following the occurrence, even if the injury is considered minor. Immediate reporting is required for expected allegations of abuse, neglect, and misappropriations, suspected fractures, and head trauma among other extremely serious situations. 

Always have an immediate intervention to prevent the incident in question from occurring again by using the root cause analysis process. Your employees’ quick reporting of issues will simplify the collection of essential data and information. This allows the Manager of Safety and Risk to better investigate the accident, collect evidence, and interview witnesses while the information is still fresh. Remember the adage, “When in doubt, report.”