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Identifying and managing risks in home library services

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Identifying and managing risks in home library services

  1. 1. Identifying and managing risks in home library servicesMylee Joseph Consultant, Public Library Services, State Library of New South WalesE: mjoseph@sl.nsw.gov.au T: 02) 9273 1521 twitter : @myleejosephPresented at Home Library Service Special Interest Group (HLSSIG) meeting, 6th September2011 Pakenham LibraryIntroductionThe ageing of the population is a vital consideration for public libraries in NSW and aroundAustralia as they plan services to meet the needs of older members of the community. TheNSW Home Library Service Working Group completed a statewide survey of home libraryservices which revealed that in 2009 there were 4,883 individual clients living in their ownhomes receiving the service across the state. Many home library service clients live in agedcare homes, with 2,561 receiving individual service and an estimated 7,629 clients accessingbulk loans at their aged care home.The survey also revealed that the NSW home library service workforce is made up of bothpaid staff (203) and contractors (9) contributing 1,831 hours per week. In addition, 390volunteers contribute a further 405 hours per week, in many cases libraries rely on thesevolunteers to provide the service. Naturally, with such a large group of people working toprovide home library services and the great variety of venues visited there are occupationalhealth and safety risks to be considered.Identifying risksIn developing guidelines to identify risks in home library service activities, the NSW HomeLibrary Service Working Group acknowledged that there are a variety of models of homelibrary service delivery, including variations in vehicles, the use of paid staff and volunteers,council policies and practices, client locations, frequency of deliveries and the volume ofmaterials delivered.These guidelines have been developed as a guide to compiling safe work method statements,policies and practices suited to the local environment. It is recommended that home libraryservice staff liaise with supervisors, managers, council risk management officers and anyother relevant staff when developing policies or procedures based on these guidelines toensure compliance with local policies.Each major activity of home library service work is identified along with key hazards and bestpractice recommendations. Please note, normal activities including shelving and retrievingitems in the library are not covered, as they are addressed in other library safe work methodstatements and general procedures. 1
  2. 2. New members joining the home library serviceActivity - Must provide permission to enter private property - Must provide emergency contact details - May have to meet eligibility requirements [eg. doctors certificate]Hazard - Breach of privacy legislation1 which sets standards for dealing with personal information - Clients with dementia may forget they have given permission to enter private property - Client may be discovered injured or sick requiring assistance - Emergency contact may be difficult to reach - Carers may not be able to provide a doctor’s certificate to prove eligibilityRecommend - Include a privacy statement on HLS application formsed best - Store client records appropriatelypractice - Ensure the emergency contact is aware that the person has joined the library service and that deliveries will be made to the home - The HLS policy should provide an entry point for carers who are housebound due to their caring responsibilities - Ensure information is provided to clients / carers when they join the service with appropriate Council contact information eg. in case they need to make a complaint.Risk assessment of delivery locationsActivity - Delivery locations should be assessed for risks in line with council’s OH&S requirements - Records should be kept of delivery run details in case of relief drivers or incidents - Identify locations where previous incidents involving council staff have occurred - Assess locations where it is hazardous for staff or volunteers to enter unaccompaniedHazard - Slip / trip / fall hazards at each delivery site should be assessed - Dog attacks - Parking may be dangerous / difficult at the site - If an accident / incident occurs while completing deliveries management should have access to information about where the staff member is likely to be [route details] and any potential hazards in those locations. - Some locations may be addresses that other council officers (rangers, inspectors, etc.) have encountered difficulties. - Some locations may be hazardous for a staff member to attend alone.Recommended - Use a standard checklist for assessing sites on the first visit,best practice identifying any issues surrounding parking, dogs, access points, trip hazards etc. - Keep site checklists with information on delivery routes in case of relief drivers or incidents - Identify any locations where it is risky for staff or volunteers to visit unaccompanied1 Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW)http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/privacynsw/ll_pnsw.nsf/pages/PNSW_nswprivacy_laws 2
  3. 3. - Check if a previous incident register is maintained of addresses council officers (rangers, inspectors, etc) - Staff conducting deliveries should have a means of contacting the library in case of incident [eg. mobile phone or two way radio]DeliveriesActivity - Assess if the vehicle requires modification (eg. cargo drawer) for safe work practice. - Ensure the vehicle is in a safe condition to operate including any modifications required (eg. cargo drawer). - Minimise the risk of driving accidents or physical injury - Volunteers may be using their own vehiclesHazard - Staff or volunteer may be injured conducting deliveries [driving or manual handling] - Vehicle breakdown - Driving accident resulting in damage to the vehicle - Contagious diseases contracted from clients during visits to homes or nursing homes - Staff or volunteers with colds / flu may be contagious and pass infection on to frail clientsRecommended - Ensure the vehicle is regularly maintained: implement a checklist forbest practice any items that should be checked on a regular basis eg. tyre pressure, fuel, coolant etc. - Ensure the vehicle is fitted with any safety features required eg. cargo drawer, safety barrier, mirrors, beeper when reversing - Ensure drivers have had appropriate training to operate the vehicle safely - Ensure there is easy access to the vehicle for loading and unloading - Ensure vehicle selection prioritises driver safety - Ensure a safe work method statement is in place for deliveries including manual handling, driving, infection control - Ensure staff and volunteers are alert to the possibility of infection and take appropriate precautions - Staff conducting deliveries should have a means of contacting the library in case of incident [eg. mobile phone or two way radio] - Ensure any insurance issues regarding volunteers using their own vehicles have been addressed.Staff / volunteer identificationActivity - Staff and volunteers should be able to be clearly identified while making deliveriesHazard - Staff may be challenged by clients or their families/friends when making deliveries - Staff may need to demonstrate they are authorised to enter private property - Clients may make claims that items have been stolen from their homes - Unauthorised visits to clients homes by staff or volunteers may occurRecommended - Ensure staff and volunteers have some form of official identification 3
  4. 4. best practice on display while conducting deliveries [eg. photo identification or name tag] - Ensure volunteers are aware that only trained and authorised volunteers may conduct deliveries [ie. an untrained friend cannot fill in for them] - Consider providing council uniforms for staff conducting deliveries - Ensure a grievance policy and dispute resolution procedure is in place re: HLS staff or volunteers accused of stealing items from homes or behaving inappropriately with clients. - Ensure information is provided to clients / carers when they join the service with appropriate Council contact information in case they need to make a complaint. - Ensure confidentiality is maintained while complaints are investigated to protect staff in case of unproven or vexatious complaints.VolunteersActivity - Volunteers may visit clients in their homes to make deliveries - Volunteer may be injured conducting deliveries - Volunteers selecting items in the libraryHazard - Volunteers represent themselves as employees of council - Volunteers behave inappropriately while conducting library business - Volunteers may be injured manual handling books in the library [eg. while selecting items]Recommended - Ensure appropriate screening processes are in place for volunteerbest practice recruitment - Ensure a code of conduct is provided for all volunteers - Ensure appropriate training and mentoring is provided for volunteers - Ensure any complaints about volunteers are followed up promptly - Ensure any insurance issues regarding volunteers using their own vehicles have been addressed. - Ensure any insurance and OH+S issues regarding volunteers using council vehicles have been addressed. - Ensure volunteers are aware of lines of reporting and procedures in case of grievancesManual handlingActivity - Staff or volunteer may be injured conducting deliveriesHazard - Slip, trip, fall in library loading area or delivery locations - Muscle strains or back injury caused by lifting - Strains caused by opening / closing vehicleRecommended - Ensure a safe work method statement is in placebest practice - Ensure the work area is kept clear of trip hazards - Ensure access to the vehicle is clear - Ensure staff and volunteers have received manual handling training - Ensure suitable trolleys and other aids are available for use - Ensure the items are delivered in containers that minimise the risk of overloading - Ensure the workstation height, access, egress is appropriate 4
  5. 5. - Establish appropriate loan limits and load limits to minimise the risk of injury to staff / volunteersFirst aid protocolsActivity - Staff or volunteers may encounter clients that are sick or injured during the course of making deliveriesHazard - Staff may be injured assisting the client - Client may suffer serious injury or death if assistance is not obtained - Staff may inadvertently injure client while assistingRecommended - Ensure staff and volunteers are aware of appropriate emergencybest practice response procedures [ie. calling ambulance and emergency contact for client] - Provide access to first aid training for staffDifficult / distressed clientsActivity - Many housebound clients can experience variations in their behaviour due to illness, degenerative conditions, medication, isolation and lonelinessHazard - Staff / volunteers may encounter a client who is disoriented - Staff / volunteers may be assaulted verbally or physically by a clientRecommended - Ensure staff and volunteers have received basic training in appropriatebest practice responses when they encounter disoriented / difficult clients - Ensure staff and volunteers are aware of any clients identified as being difficult due to known conditions [eg. dementia] - Ensure incidents are reported to the supervisor and recorded. Where appropriate the emergency contact may need to be notifiedDeceased clientsActivity - Many housebound clients have serious / chronic illnesses and are in the latter part of their lifeHazard - Staff / volunteers may encounter a client who is deceased when they call in to deliver items - Staff / volunteers may be affected emotionally by the impact of encountering a deceased client or losing a long term client - Library materials may be lost when clients’ effects are dispersedRecommended - Ensure staff and volunteers have received training in appropriatebest practice responses when they encounter deceased clients [ie. contacting the police / ambulance, informing the library manager] - Ensure staff and volunteers who have been affected are appropriately debriefed by library management / council HR and have access to the employee assistance program if further counselling is required - Ensure a policy is in place re: HLS staff attending funerals for clients - Ensure a policy is in place re: writing off items that are lost when clients are deceased / moved into alternative accommodation. 5
  6. 6. Lending electrical equipmentActivity - Libraries may loan CD players, DAISY players or other equipment to clientsHazard - Workcover requires that some electrical equipment be regularly tested and tagged. - Equipment may be damaged during use by the client. - Equipment may be hazardous if its condition deteriorates. - Items belonging to the client may be damaged by library equipment.Recommended - Monitor any developments in the relevant legislation whichbest practice specifically identifies working environments where testing and tagging of electrical equipment is required. - Ensure asset management procedures are in place to manage, delete and replace equipment as required. - Inspect equipment regularly to identify deterioration.ConclusionEstimates of an increase in the population of 85 years and older members of the communityindicate that demand for home library services may increase by as much as 500% in thecoming decades. Meanwhile, the increased use of technology in providing home libraryservices (eg. laptops, ipads / tablets, mp3 players, DAISY players) indicate greater emphasisshould be placed on the management of these devices to ensure safety for staff and clients.However, the significant components of the home library service role continue to includerisks associated with driving and manual handling. 6