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Issue: 43 - Jul 16, 2012
Weather Emergencies and OSHA Preparedness
By: Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, ASCP, CFS
Kendrick Technical Services, LLC
I heard from a colleague this past week who was pleased to announce that his “team” survived some especially challenging weather emergencies over the past few weeks.
 
This team at one of my OSHA consulting clinics in Virginia exemplified exactly the kind of preparedness OSHA requires us to have for weather emergencies, and I wanted to share this with you. I wrote to the clinic after hearing national news reports and asked how they had held up.
 
“We came through not just OK but unscathed,” he wrote. “I was proud of my team and so grateful they work here. I made sure to let them know how pleased I was and I especially want to thank you for the emergency plans.
 
“Everyone knew exactly what to do and when to do it. In spite of power outages that extended for days, our team not only was able to keep the clinic running smoothly but helped keep our clients calm and informed about their animals as they dealt with their own emergencies.“
 
 
I always love to hear good reports from my consulting clients, but this one felt especially good. It proved that even after enduring eye rolling and dramatic sighs as we walked through the planning for various potential emergencies, it all paid off and to me that is always the point. As for OSHA, well that’s exactly what they are striving for - preparedness to ensure the continued safety of your teams.
 
With the interesting weather we are seeing throughout the country this is an especially good time to make sure we have those emergency plans in place and inform our staff of who does what, when and how. No one can be prepared for everything but we can mitigate or lessen the effects of damaging storms and their effects by having effective emergency plans in place.
 
These past weeks have brought an array of odd weather phenomena, including record-breaking heat waves and odd weather events such as derecho (duh-RAY'- choh), a long-lived straight line windstorm that sweeps over a large area at high speed. These have winds in excess of 70 mph and leave much devastation in their paths.
 
Between the heat waves and the windstorms, power was lost at the Virginia clinic but because it had a plan for what to do, how to deal with hospital patients and notification of clients, what to do to maintain records during power outages and how to make sure all medical needs were met, because they had a systematic plan in place, the clinic was able to continue functioning, which in turn reassured clients, a huge PR boost I might add. Clients have enough to worry about in such emergencies and knowing their pets are safe helps reassure them that they have the best veterinary medical team.
 
AVMA provides a wonderful brochure to help us develop our personal emergency plan:
http://www.avma.org/disaster/vet_practices_brochure.pdf
 
Another weather emergency and accompanying potential hazard involves heat. And as temperatures soar, so, too, do attitudes.
 
Studies have shown a link between an increase in temperatures and an increase in aggressive behavior and violence. In fact in a study by Simister & Cooper they found not only a seasonality to several types of violent crimes but also for certain workplace behaviors such as strikes, quitting and violent confrontations with co- workers, managers and even clients. Not surprisingly then they also found that the levels of assaults peak in July and August.
 
The physiology behind this phenomenon is correlated to elevated adrenaline levels. The human body generates adrenaline in response to excessive heat, and while that adrenaline increase is helpful in keeping the body temperature within safe limits, as a side effect it can lead to aggression, which is often inappropriate.
 
With summer temperatures soaring in many parts of the nation this may be a good time to revisit workplace violence with your staff and discuss ways to cool those tempers, as well as the temperature.
 
While we strive to maintain a comfortable temperature in the clinic, our clients may be coming in already a bit overheated. With their adrenaline levels high, we may see tempers flare. Remind staff of some of the following rules of non- engagement.
 
Some suggestions from my workbook on Compassion Fatigue and Dealing with
Difficult People:
 
If you are ever confronted with a violent person follow these general rules:
 
 
1.  The louder they get the quieter you get.
 
2.  Offer to get assistance. For example you can say: “Our manager can help resolve this for you. Let me go get them.” Or “Let me get one of the doctors to help you with this issue.”
 
3.  Do NOT get confrontational or accusatory.
 
4.  Do empathize slightly by saying things like “I can understand how you could feel…” without being condescending, especially if the situation is one there is no way you can truthfully say you understand. Nothing sets a violent person off quicker than being told “I understand how you feel” if the person stating that has never experienced what they are experiencing so use empathy with care.
 
5.  Give them an out by offering to wait in another area while you get them a comfort item such as a drink of water.
 
6.  Ask them if there is anyone they would like you to call.
 
7.  Ask them if they would like some time in a quiet and cool room.
 
 
Bottom line is:
 
1.  Do not get caught alone with a potentially violent person
 
2.  Get Help! Never hesitate to call 911 or to press a panic alarm.
 
3.  Run, kick, scream, do whatever you need to do to stay safe and get away from danger.
 
No job is worth endangering your life. And, most importantly, remember that no one has the right to treat you with disrespect, aggression or hostility.
 
OSHA targets four prime areas during the summer months:
 
1.  Heat stress
 
2.  Weather emergencies
 
3.  Seasonal workers
 
4.  Violence
 
Workplace violence is one of its key emphasis programs. Staff training that incorporates reminders about aggression, coping strategies and avoidance techniques will go far in ensuring that your workplace remains safe.
 
Be sure to remind your employees to keep their cool these hot summer months and to prevent the heat of aggression from ruining their summer days.
 
Cool All and Be Prepared!  
An additional special note from Dr. Kendrick, Kendrick Veterinary Consulting
Group, LLC:
 
 
A special alert on a DEA notice, from a news release we sent out to our clients and subscribers this week:
 
Hi folks, here is a news flash I thought was critical to pass on to you. Hope this finds all well and keeping cool
Chery
 
It started in California and has now moved into Washington state – the DEA is verifying registration addresses for veterinarians, with a particular emphasis on ones assigned to a residence, which could affect any practice but especially mobile ones.
 
The AVMA recommends completing the form – do not ignore it by any means – and returning it to the DEA. The form may arrive in the mail or via an in-person visit from the DEA.
 
The AVMA link can be read here:
 
http://atwork.avma.org/2012/07/03/dea-update-washington-state-is-next-affected/
 
 
As a reminder, all of my regulatory and training materials have been reduced in price and anyone who buys anything from my company has access to ask questions 24/7 for a full year via
phone or email about any regulatory matter.
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tp://www.kendricktechservices.com/Manuals.html

 

 

One vet to another, Doc Chery

 

Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, ASCP, CFS

Kendrick Technical Services, LLC

Kendrick Veterinary Consulting Group, LLC Corken Publishing Group, LLC

P.O. Box 5793

Maryville, TN 37802-5793

865-405-4255 http://www.KendrickTechServices.com 

 

 

Chery F. Kendrick, DVM, MPVM, MLT, CFS is a writer, educator, speaker and consultant. She is the nation’s leading veterinary regulatory control and OSHA expert. Her time spent in Washington D.C. as an advocate for the veterinary profession with OSHA and other regulatory agencies has resulted in many positive compliance changes for our industry. Her manuals and training programs are used by clinics and animal care facilities nationwide. She speaks at association meetings and conferences nationwide. Her well attended workshops are constantly praised as powerful resources for practice managers, veterinarians and their staffs.

 

Please feel free to contact her at  chery@KendrickTechServices.com with your questions and visit her web site at  www.KendrickTechServices.com

 

For information on Dr. Kendrick’s workshops and workbooks contact her at Kendrick Veterinary

Consulting Group, LLC 865-405-4255 or  chery@KendrickTechServices.com