Employee Safety for a Home-Based ABA Agency
Ensuring the safety of your employees is paramount to any business operations. Not only does a safe environment promote wellbeing for your staff and the safety of your clients, it is a legal obligation you owe to anyone working on your behalf.
I recently connected with Sarah Trautman of the BALC regarding this specific topic. You can find a recording of our webinar here.
Specific workplace safety guidelines are controlled by the Department of Labor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA dictates that an employer has a responsibility to:
- Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards
- Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to standards
- Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment
- Establish operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow requirements
- Provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand
You may also have various other safety requirements dictated to you by a funding source, local fire-marshal, building inspector, or another outside agency.
The above requirements create some serious challenges for your typical ABA operation with a workforce that operates remotely, rarely comes into an office, and provides services in an environment over which they have little control (client home).
So, what do you do?
For one, you need to have your own set of standards and training protocols. This should all be incorporated into what is known as an Injury and Illness Prevention Program or IIPP. OSHA has some samples of these documents on their site, but one should be developed and maintained specifically for your business. It will spell out training items, timelines, disciplinary procedures, and other compliance standards. You’ll need to have a plan and protocol for how you intend to train and monitor your mobile staff – webinars, safety apps, e-learning modules are all effective tools.
Secondly, you need to provide appropriate oversight for the sites where your employees work. We recommend having a robust inspection checklist for in-home services that asks various questions and includes a site inspection.
The inspection should include notes on appropriate parking, ingress/egress, neighborhood characteristics, and other pertinent information. You’ll need to gather this data and use it to assist training employees on environmental factors they may face. You might have an employee who would be great for the family clinically, but they have issues with pets/stairs/etc that might prevent them from working at the home. You’ll also want all of this data to assist you when a new RBT comes on board to take over a case.
As far as specific questions to ask a family, your inspection checklist might include the following elements:
- Who lives in the home? Relationship and age.
- Any pets? How many, what type?
- Firearms in the home?
- Other weapons?
- Smoke detectors? CO2 detectors?
- Fire extinguisher?
- Overall housekeeping?
We find that empowering your front-line staff to report back regarding issues in the home is a great way to make them a part of the safety process and keep your eyes out for potential hazards. They should have an incident reporting form that includes data on the home and family members that would be pertinent to their work.