Last week I was fortunate to be invited to Pukekohe Hospital for a coffee and a chat. While I was there, I made a surprise presentation to a lovely lady called Maria Burch. Maria works at Franklin Memorial Hospital and has been a Health and Safety representative for the past five years. Along with 19 safety reps from across the organisation, Maria was recognised for her contribution to keeping our workplace safe for our patients, visitors and staff. Maria received her award for outstanding health and safety engagement and service.
In fact, Maria is so dedicated to her job that she nearly missed the presentation. When asked if she was coming, she said she would be late as she had a health and safety audit to complete – now that’s dedication. I’m joined by Maria to tell us more.
I’ve always had an interest in health and safety, so when I was asked to be a Health and Safety representative it seemed a good fit. I believe everyone should be responsible for the health and safety of their patients, however, it helps to know what to look for. For example at Franklin Memorial Hospital, we look after a lot of elderly patients, so you need to regularly monitor safety risks such as trip hazards, and obstacles that could cause a fall, for example, carpet lifting up, beds raised too high, etc. And it’s not just the inside of the building you need to think about, there could be hazards outside. For example security lights that are not working, leaves being dragged inside (slip hazard) or ramps that need an upgrade. We used to have a ramp that had wooden handrails – this was a hazard because of splinters, so the rails were replaced with stainless steel.
The main message I want to get across is that if you see something that could be a hazard do something about it. Don’t walk away thinking someone else will do it for you.
It also pays to be a bit creative when thinking of solutions. We used to have a dining room table that had a central board that ran underneath it. This had on one occasion scrapped an elderly lady’s legs when her wheelchair was being pushed under the table. To fix the problem, I got my hands on a pool noodle, asked our Engineer to cut out a groove and covered the bottom of the centreboard. That’s what I love about being a Health and Safety representative, you can help prevent accidents from happening.
I’ve noticed a lot of safety improvements while I’ve been in the role. However, I don’t consider what I do a job – it’s become a part of my practice. I’ve worked at Franklin for over 12 years, and everyone takes great pride in providing safe and quality care. While we predominately provide care for the elderly, we also provide palliative care and respite for the local community.
What I love about Franklin and Pukekohe is the community spirit. I can’t think of a better place to live or to work.
Maria and Geraint
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