Bethany Bruner, Senior Staff Writer

The Ohio Safety Campaign and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ranks McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital first for lowest on the job injury for employees in 2009. (SCOTT ALLISON | The Miami Student)

Employees at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital (MHMH) have stayed safe this year, and the state of Ohio knows it.

Recently, the Ohio Hospital Safety Campaign, in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, recognized MHMH as the small employer in the state with the lowest on the job injury rate.

Barb Cluster, risk manager for MHMH, said every employer in the state is measured and compared based upon information received from the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. The hospital was compared with other employers in the state that had approximately 400 employees.

The hospital ranked first in the state for 2009. Cluster said this high ranking is the first time in recent memory that MHMH has been recognized.

“For several years before I got here, we had an increasing number of injuries,” Cluster said.

She credited the processes that the hospital has in place to examine safety procedures for the short turn around.

“We’re always working on things,” she said. “If someone falls on a wet floor, we have to find out why there was no sign or why there was a leak and fix it.”

Part of the reasoning for the comparatively low injury rate at the hospital may be because of how the comparison was done. The only injuries that count for the rankings are injuries resulting in lost time from work.

According to Cluster, most healthcare employee injuries do not result in time off work.

Many healthcare injuries are simple, Cluster said, like being poked by a needle, but there are procedures in place for when a more serious injury occurs.

“All employees who are hurt have to go to the emergency room immediately and be evaluated by a physician,” Cluster said. “By using active process improvement and managing injuries immediately, we get people back to work and prevent injuries.”

Miami University junior Jeffrey Kleykamp said while winning the award is a good thing for the hospital, the statistics could be misleading.

“It doesn’t really make sense if they say the hospital is safe for employees only,” he said. “It has to be safe for both the patients and the employees.”

Cluster said the last 18 months have brought changes that have helped prevent injuries to both employees and patients. The hospital recently invested in needleless injectors that allow nurses and other hospital employees to use needles without them being exposed. This technology helps to prevent puncture wounds and potential disease from contaminated needles.

Another change is the safety training provided by department directors and management at the hospital. This training is designed to help prevent employee injuries, Cluster said.

First-year Charlie Joanna Wagers said winning the award shows the hospital cares about more than the patients.

“It’s a really good thing,” she said. “It shows they care and they’re doing their jobs.”

While she appreciates the recognition, Cluster hopes next year will bring even greater improvement.

“We’re hopeful to see even better numbers for 2010,” she said.