Personal Security Tips for Healthcare Workers

GOOD HABITS FOR HEALTHCARE WORKER SAFETY

In most cases, you are in control of the circumstances in which you place yourself. Just by being AWARE that you are a potential victim of a personal crime is the first step toward prevention.

The least expensive and most effective measure you can take to protect yourself against crime is to incorporate certain habits into your daily routine that make you and your family less vulnerable - to adopt a “security conscious” lifestyle. Always be aware of your environment and any possible dangers. Take note of the nearest exits in any facility you visit. A basic rule is to stay alert to your surroundings, trust your instincts, and if you feel uncomfortable in a place or situation, take action, and leave immediately. The best prevention is precaution.

WORKPLACE SECURITY/SAFETY

Hospitals and Health Centers/Clinics:

Healthcare clinics, offices and hospitals can be emotionally charged places of work with intense personal interactions between healthcare worker and patient. While creating an atmosphere of trust is important, workplace safety is even more critical for this unique type of workplace.

  • If the facility’s access control or lock systems are not working properly, report this to Hospital Security and Maintenance.

  • Do not prop open doors. Report all doors that are broken or won’t lock/secure properly to hospital maintenance.

  • Always wear your hospital photo identification badge when in the hospital or at any of the off-site facilities.

  • Immediately report all lost or stolen hospital ID badges. Remember it allows access into hospital facilities.

  • Do not allow non-employees to tail gate behind you through a locked card access only door. Politely ask if you can help them and immediately report suspicious behavior/activity to hospital security or 911 in cases of emergencies.

  • Hospital staff do not have to take verbal abuse. Try to verbally de-escalate the situation and call Hospital Security assistance and 911 (police) in cases of emergencies.

  • Immediately report any threats to your supervisor and hospital security even if you are not sure that these are real. Early identification and intervention is critical.

  • Report ALL crimes to hospital security, no matter how minor it might be. All serious crime should be reported to security and the local police.

  • Do not leave money or valuables unsecured in your office or at your workstation.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and what is going on in your work place.

  • Be proactive and make good common-sense decisions concerning your safety as well as your co-workers, patients and families.

  • Know your department and/or facility’s emergency plans including evacuation procedures, mustering locations, safe rooms, and other components.

Parking Lot Safety:

The parking lot of a healthcare facility or hospital, even if in a secured lot, can expose a healthcare worker to risks. Create good habits from these tips to be less vulnerable when arriving at, and leaving work.

  • If you will be working late, try to move your vehicle to a well-lighted parking place that is closest to the door by which you will exit before it gets dark.

  • Lock your doors when your car is parked.

  • Park in well lighted areas. If lights in the parking lot are out, report this to hospital security and maintenance.

  • Do not leave valuables in view inside your car.

  • Remember to back into your parking space allowing for a more rapid egress if a threatening situation develops.

  • Try and leave the building with co-workers if possible. The buddy system leaves you less vulnerable.

  • A small high intensity flashlight or the flashlight app on your cellphone is helpful for illuminating the area around and under your vehicle, and allows you to check the back seat before unlocking and getting in.

  • Have your keys in your hands before you leave the building and remember to use the panic button on your key fob if you sense something is amiss.

  • Try and walk down the middle of the parking aisle keeping as much distance between you and the parked cars on either side. Don’t take shortcuts between vehicles.

  • Always walk with purpose and scan your surroundings.

  • Once in your vehicle, lock the doors immediately and get underway. Always make sure your car doors are locked while driving.

  • Always trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about walking out to your vehicle don’t!

  • Utilize the escort service provided by hospital security.

 Try to leave the building with a co-worker if possible, using a buddy system to be safe.

Try to leave the building with a co-worker if possible, using a buddy system to be safe.

Remember, the key to personal safety is not only recognizing potentially dangerous situations but also taking immediate actions to address them. Knowledge, fear and intuition are important first steps. Appropriately acting on these feelings is essential.

Lynda Buelhealthcare