Occupational Health and Safety: Are Rules Being Broken?
occupational health and safety

Photo Credit: SmallBizBits News

Actual Comments of Why Employees Leave

“One time a person had TB and I was uncomfortable transporting them because they didn’t have a mask on. The supervisor didn’t see a problem with that.”

The Solution:

It appears that with this exit interview quote, there is either a communications breakdown or, more serious, an occupational health and safety policy breakdown.

There are two types of TB infections:

Latent TB Infection, which is asymptomatic and not transmittable

TB Disease, which is symptomatic, infectious and transmittable

A medical patient, social work case, prisoner, client, customer, etc. with active TB disease is infectious. This is a health and safety hazard for all who come in contact. The disease is spread very easily through the air, on particles of moisture coughed or even exhaled normally from an infected person’s mouth during normal breathing or talking.

Tremendous care and precaution must be taken by any organization with employees that would ever possibly be placed in a situation where a person “known or suspected” to have an active TB infection would be transported.

A glance at the “TB Patient Transportation Checklist” published by the California Dept. of Public Health, makes it clear that the patient must wear a surgical mask over their nose and mouth at all times during the trip and that the driver and any other staff members (as few as possible) sharing a vehicle with the infected person must be (minimally) on a N-95 filter portable respirator. Persons receiving on the other end of the journey must be given adequate notice, etc. There are several important rules that must be followed, regardless of which state your business is located.

These are important public health policies and procedures that keep your employees safe from disease, and the employer protected from lawsuits.

Here’s where the exit quote might suggest some miscommunication surrounding this particular health and safety hazard:

Supervisors must ensure that any employee in a position to transport TB patients understands whether or not that patient is still considered infectious. They must clearly communicate whether that patient is safe to transport without masks and respirators being involved.

Same for persons known to have latent TB infection: They are not contagious. And your employees must be made to understand by management or through initial onboard training that this group of TB-infected individuals can be transported normally without any danger.

If your employees feel—even without merit—that your organization is putting them in danger by disregarding some aspect of health and safety in the workplace, they will want to leave the employer because of fear for their own safety and because of damaged trust.

On the other hand, if the quote above indicates that the business or institution is not properly following laws surrounding important public and employee health and safety issues, then it’s time to sound the alarm with upper management for 1) the sake of the organization, 2) the protection of the employees and, in this instance, 3) the interest of wider public health.

(This blog post is brought to you by HSD Metrics, an exit interview company that helps companies reduce employee turnover by providing automated reference checking, exit interviews, and by measuring employee retention. The comments from exiting employees that are featured in this blog are collected from actual exit interviews conducted using ExitRight®, HSD Metrics’ exit interviewing service. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today. Because we place the privacy of our clients at the top of our priority list; the names of all involved parties are kept completely confidential.)