1. Safety emergency procedures should be clear and as simple as possible. Don’t complicate your procedures. The longer they are, the less likely they will be followed. Stick with the basics.

2. Organized and up-to-date documentation of all safety requirements is very important. You can put yourself in a big hole during a survey by running around and trying to find drill reports, training logs, or having your safety documentation poorly organized. This makes the surveyor’s job a lot more stressful trying to track everything down and communicates that safety is not a priority.

3. If you transport persons served in personal vehicles, don’t minimize the importance of the transportation safety standards. There are lots of landmines in this area with organizations that are doing community-based services and don’t have clear boundaries about use of personal vehicles with persons served. Read the standards closely, implement all requirements, and organize the documentation of your practices.

4. The majority of the health and safety standards are directly connected to performance improvement activities. Inspections, drills, safety trainings, critical incident reporting, etc., all have requirements of using the information to improve your health and safety practices and are tied into business function performance improvement standards in section M. of ASPIRE. If you are not using your health and safety processes to improve your practices, you are not meeting the full intent of the standards.

5. The absence of critical incident reports can be an indication that your system is not working. It is very common for organizations to state “we didn’t do an analysis of critical incidents for the year because we didn’t have any”. Sometimes this is accurate, many times it is not. The most common reason why organizations don’t have any reported critical incidents is because their reporting system is not functional (lack of clear guidelines, lack of employee training for reporting, lack of functional reporting forms, etc.). Again, don’t put this on the low priority list.

6. When conducting emergency drills in all required areas, be creative and simulate an emergency that is consistent with your facility and service delivery environment. Develop your emergency response procedures and practice them by doing a simulation of something that has some probability of actually occurring, based on your physical environment, the services provided, the population served, your location, etc. Drills are to be “unannounced” so that people react to them as they would if the event actually occurred. Make the probable emergency specific. For example, walk into the reception area and announce “Emergency drill simulation. Client on floor and unresponsive”. Then observe how people respond.