St. Angela’s College nursing team take first prize in HSA health and safety in healthcare competition

Friday 7th February 2014

A team of undergraduate nursing students from St. Angela’s college in Sligo has won first place in the Health and Safety Authority’s annual ‘Occupational Safety and Health in Healthcare’ competition aimed at nursing and midwifery undergraduates across Higher Education.  At the final team interviews held in Dublin, finalist teams battled it out to win first prize -  Apple iPADs.  The winning team was captained by third year Bachelor of Nursing Science student Darren Jones. Team members included fellow 3rd year students, Katie Higgins and Caitriona Redmond. Second and third placed were teams from Dundalk IT, and Athlone IT respectively.

The aim of the competition is to provide an environment where undergraduate students can collaborate and work together to enhance, develop and embed their knowledge and understanding of occupational health and safety in a healthcare setting. The competition involved posing a real life scenario using problem-based learning which undergraduate nurses had to address and make a submission to the Authority on.

Anne Maria O’Connor, Senior Policy Inspector, HSA said, “The focus of this year’s competition brief was the management of occupational health and safety in healthcare. There is increasing demands on all healthcare organisations to demonstrate good governance in all aspects of service provision including good governance in relation to the health and safety of its workforce.

“All nursing professionals need to have a sound understanding of occupational health and safety and be able to apply this knowledge in their everyday working life. A safe working environment facilitates nursing professionals to provide optimum care which benefits both patient and carer.”

Joanne Harmon, Education Manager with the Health and Safety Authority said, “The approach to the competition is based on problem-based learning which resembles professional life far more than many more traditional methods of assessment.   Feedback from students and their lecturers is that the engagement of working together with their colleagues on the competition is a rewarding and enjoyable part of their learning.”

The healthcare sector is one of the largest employers in Ireland, employing 13% of our workforce (or about 240,000 people). Nurses are the main occupational group in this sector. The sector reports a significantly high number of work-related accidents and incidents to the Authority. The highest number of reported incidents year on year are related to manual handling work activities (including patient handling) followed by slips, trips and falls and work related violence and aggression.

The judging panel was made up of the following members: Chairperson: Tom Doyle (Policy Inspector,  HSA), Norma Sheehan (Director of Nursing, St. Joseph’s Centre, Shankill, Co. Dublin) and David Maher (National Ambulance Service and Institute of Occupational Safety and Health).