In the aftermath of abuse, the consequences of brain injury may be confused with mental health or substance abuse problems and not understood as the outcome of repeated blows to the head or strangulation attempts depriving the victim of oxygen during a violent attack by a domestic partner. The person who is agitated, depressed, forgetful, confused, having slurred speech, experiencing headaches, pain, vertigo and other physical symptoms that we associate with brain injury may be not appropriately diagnosed and treated. In situations were the abuse is ongoing, the effects of repeated brain injury are cumulative and not unlike those experienced by a boxer or football player who has had multiple concussions. Health care professionals need training in recognizing that the pattern of symptoms following domestic abuse may, in fact, be brain injury and learn to look for the real cause of problems.
Training is one of the most important elements of any Injury and Illness Prevention Program. It allows employees to learn their job properly, brings new ideas into the workplace, reinforces existing ideas and practices, and puts your program into action.
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The following sections describe the process you might go through in establishing an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Remember that you do not have to do everything described in this manual at once.
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By putting your action plan into operation at your workplace, you will have taken a major step toward having an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Remember, an Injury and Illness Prevention Program is a plan put into practice.
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Open communication with your employees is crucial to the success of your efforts. Their cooperation depends on understanding what the Injury and Illness Prevention Program is all about, why it is important to them, and how it affects their work. The more you do to keep them informed of the changes you are making, the smoother your transition will be.
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Schedule a review-quarterly, semiannually or annually-to look at each critical component in your Injury and Illness Prevention Program, to determine what is working well and what changes, if any, are needed. When you identify needs that should be addressed, you have the basis for new safety and health objectives for program improvement.
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A good action plan has two parts. One is an overall list of major changes or improvements needed to make your Injury and Illness Prevention Program effective. Assign each item a priority and a target date for completion, and identify the person who will monitor or direct each action.
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You may find that you are already well on your way toward having a good Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Compare what you have with Appendix B.