Ensuring Workplace Safety in Your Veterinary Practice

“It’s better to have a plan in place and not need one, than to need a plan and not have one.” This adage is especially true when it comes to workplace safety in a veterinary clinic. Establishing comprehensive safety protocols is essential to protect both staff and clients. Here’s everything your practice needs to know to create a safer environment.

Preparing for Potential Threats

  1. Conduct Regular Safety Drills
    • Ensure all staff members are familiar with emergency protocols through regular practice drills.
  2. Develop a Clear Evacuation Plan
    • Create designated escape routes and meeting points for quick and safe evacuations.
  3. Establish a Communication System
    • Implement a system for alerting staff about potential threats promptly.

De-escalation Techniques

Handling Disgruntled Clients or Employees

Train staff in de-escalation techniques to manage conflicts calmly and effectively.

Active Shooter Protocol

  1. RUN
    • If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.
    • Evacuate whether others agree to or not.
    • Leave your belongings behind.
    • Help others escape if possible.
    • Prevent others from entering the area.
    • Call 911 when you are safe.
  2. HIDE
    • Lock and/or blockade the door.
    • Silence your cell phone.
    • Hide behind large objects.
    • Remain very quiet.
  3. FIGHT
    • Only as a last resort, and if your life depends on it, attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
    • Act with physical aggression.
    • Improvise weapons.
    • Commit to your actions.

Watch this active shooter training video prepared by the City of Houston to understand the key actions to take during such an event. (Note: This video touches on a sensitive topic.)

[Watch Video]

Reporting Procedures

  • Establish clear protocols for reporting incidents to ensure quick and effective responses.

Continual Training and Review

  • Regularly update and review safety protocols to adapt to new potential threats and ensure ongoing staff readiness.

Practice Safety Plan Ideas

  • Develop a “Code” Word: Establish a code word for your team to use in the event of an emergency.
  • Connect with Local Police: Reach out to your local police department ahead of time to build a relationship and ensure quick assistance when needed.
  • The Three A’s Business Cards: Print business-sized cards with The Three A’s (Alert, Assess, Act) and include staff contact information to distribute among your team.
  • Safety Posters: Print and display additional safety posters in staff areas, break rooms, and workspaces.
  • Lunch Hour CE: Conduct continuing education sessions during lunch hours focused on safety protocols.
  • Incident and Training Forms: Use printed incident forms and monthly safety training tracking forms to document and review safety practices.

The safety and well-being of everyone in the veterinary clinic are paramount. By implementing proactive measures, training staff in de-escalation techniques, and preparing for potential threats, you can create a safer environment for both employees and clients. Remember, a well-prepared team is the best defense against emergencies. For more resources and detailed guides on veterinary practice safety, visit our website.