Avera Medical Minute AQoP: Keeping workers safe on the job - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute AQoP: Keeping workers safe on the job

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Nurse Shannon Fagerhaug goes over safety protocols with an employee at Graphic Packaging International Nurse Shannon Fagerhaug goes over safety protocols with an employee at Graphic Packaging International

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the number one cause for injuries on the job are slips, trips or falls. One South Dakota employer, they're going the extra mile to protect their workforce.

Forklifts, giant rolls of paper, and plenty of fast moving components are simply part of the job at Graphic Packaging International.  

"If someone is not paying attention a certain amount of time and they stick their hand where it shouldn't be it's a matter of seconds and now they've had an injury." Said Shannon Fagerhaug, a nurse with Avera Queen of Peace's Occupational Medicine Department.

The converting plant in Mitchell converts paper board into cartons for some the world's most popular products. However the process and machinery involved also have the potential to create slips, trips, and falls.  

"You saw some of the printing presses that are out there and they can spew a lot of different chemicals out on the floor and we get a little bit of misting going on the floors so we are constantly cleaning the floors and trying to police it in that fashion. We've also got a lot of different equipment that's on the floor you saw one of our roll kicks where there's a hole in the floor where the machine injects so we are constantly identifying different hazards." Said Mark Parsons, the environmental health and safety manager at GPI.

Graphics Packaging International employs 230 people. Each one is extremely important as is their safety. So for the past decade the company has partnered with Avera Queen of Peace's Occupational Medicine.

"They're a very integral part of our programs here at Graphic Packaging." Said Parsons.

Registered Nurse Shannon Fagerhaug is on staff during business hours, offering the first line of defense against workplace injuries.

"For me being on site knowing what type of job that they are doing and the ways that they're doing their job and mechanics of the injury I'm able to treat them better and at least give them a better recommendation for how to get better and keep it from happening again." Said Fagerhaug.

Work related injuries range from strains and sprains all the way up to broken bones and potential surgery. A trained eye can help diagnose and treat an injury faster, either onsite or by referring them on to the hospital. So far, being proactive has definitely paid off.  

"Yes we've seen a change and we are very aggressive in trying to abate those hazards hand-in-hand with the Avera team." Said Parsons.

Only nine injuries have been filed with OSHA in the past three years. That's a credit to Shannon and the supervisors but also the employees who clearly have each other's back.  

"It's not just one person observing people it's 230 people working as a team together to identify slips trips and fall hazards that can exist in the industry and help us to abate them at our facility." Said Parsons.

"Awareness is number one, if we can make people aware of the areas that they're working in and the potential hazards that come with working in areas such as that, that is the key is getting them to be aware to those types of situations." Said Fagerhaug.

With safety measures in place and extra care from employees, the job gets done without sacrificing any fingers or toes in the process. Shannon isn't the person responsible for safety, she has a trained safety team that works around the clock adding another dimension to the workplace. For more information about occupational medicine just call 877-AT-AVERA.


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