Cooking up Safety
Fred Simms creates a safe workplace for those who feed our patients
From chicken broth to meatballs, Fred Simms is a food service manager who helps Patient Food and Nutrition Services serve as many as 2,000 meals to Health System patients every day. What most people don’t see is the behind-the-scenes work involved—and the potential risk of injury to the employees providing food for our patients. This is why Simms joined the Safety Liaison Network—to ensure his department is working safely.
The Network is a group of 300 departmental safety champions who update Fire and Safety Tackboards, distribute safety information, and promote safety events and educational opportunities. Simms was asked to represent his department based on his experience on safety initiatives at two other hospitals. He also serves as a chairperson on the PFANS Safety Committee, which has taken great strides to reduce the number of injuries and accidents that lead to days off work.
“We filmed each of the workers on the tray line to see what kind of repetitive motions they performed,” Simms says of a recent project. “If you do something once or twice a day, it’s alright, but if you do it over and over again, injury is possible.”
A safety advocate through and through, Simms would like to improve processes and ensure equipment is working properly, as well as encourage employees to report “near misses” in addition to actual injuries.
“I enjoy working on safety initiatives because I am able to take action and help solve problems on the job,” Simms says. “When employees are working safely and doing things ergonomically correct, they don’t have to go home and drop on the couch from being worn out.”
Not being worn out is important when it comes to work-life balance, something Simms knows a thing or two about. Simms lives in Pinconning and commutes home on weekends to see his daughter perform in the marching band during her senior year. In addition, he and his wife recently welcomed their son home from Iraq and drove him to Texas where he’ll be stationed for a year.
At work, Simms and others’ efforts to implement safety initiatives at the department level have led to a decrease in PFANS’ Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) rates, meaning employees experience fewer days missed due to injury. The ratio dropped from the 20s to single digits, with 7.71 of 100 full-time employees reporting injuries in the past year. The Safety Committee is working on a new initiative to bring employees back to work sooner by finding jobs that meet their needs.
“When people are off due to injury, their biggest complaint when they call us is that they’re bored and want to come back,” Simms says. “Just recently we were able to find a sitting job for someone with a standing restriction.”