A client handling program is designed to control potential and existing hazards. The basic elements include:
- Education and training
- Considerations for client service agreements (as applicable)
Developing a Policy
A safe client handling policy shows the organization’s commitment to worker health and safety. If the organization has an existing policy, it should be reviewed to ensure the necessary components exist. The JHSC should be consulted at least annually to review the measures and procedures.
A policy should include the following:
- Commitment statement
- Roles and responsibilities of workplace parties
Developing Program Procedure
From an operations perspective, developing comprehensive procedures directs staff and management to ensure the program is followed consistently and meets various compliance standards.
Procedural components and content for an effective client handling program include:
- Client assessments
- Client handling techniques and equipment procedures
- Mandatory training
- Pre-use inspection of equipment
- Preventive maintenance of equipment
- Infection control and cleaning
- Reporting and investigation of hazards, accidents, and incidents
- Purchasing of equipment and devices
- Evaluation and quality improvement
Management and staff performing client handling activities must be trained in the policies and procedures.
Developing the Training and Education Program
Comprehensive training and education are integral parts of this program. Therefore, the organization’s JHSC committee must complete training and material development procedures before the program’s implementation.
Training should include:
- Program goals and objectives
- Overview of injury demographics, statistics, and current trends/issues
- MSD awareness
- Client handling policy and procedures, and expectations of compliance
- Client mobility assessments
- Selection of accepted client handling techniques
- Competency in performance of transfers, lift, lateral transfer/slide and reposition techniques
- Communication methods including documentation (type and location), forms, use of the assessment cards and logos, etc.
- Selection and use of equipment
Client Service Agreements
Community-based services face some unique challenges in client-handling .
Community care organizations should include wording in the client service agreement that supports using client-handling aids and devices. In addition, this agreement should communicate the importance of both client and employee health and safety and set a positive tone for the culture and philosophy of the organization.
Two important issues should be addressed in the health and safety section of a client service agreement:
- A requirement that the working environment does not pose a risk to the well-being of workers
- Repairs to broken equipment are the client’s responsibility, and services may have to be modified until the repair is complete.
A client cannot direct care in a manner that may injure a worker. The employer needs to ensure that staff are safe and remain healthy while they are working with the clients in their community. Therefore, clients’ rights to direct their care have limits and workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. There is also the obligation on the part of the employer to investigate and implement proper controls to promote worker health and safety.