MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Medical Educator Speakers Bureau Seminars and Events Research Studies Research Grants Catalyst PDF File Community Happenings Campus News

Return to Main Menu

MUSC repeat-winner in occupational safety

by Alex Jackson
Public Relations
MUSC has been recognized for having the best safety record in the state when compared to similar institutions.
During ceremonies this spring in Columbia, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce presented MUSC with the Commendation of Excellence Award for the ninth consecutive year; and in Myrtle Beach, the South Carolina Occupational Safety Council presented MUSC with its Safety Performance Award for 2007.
These awards are given to employers who have the least amount of days lost due to a work-related illness or injury. The criteria for the awards are to have a lost-day illness and injury rate of less than one.
Both the medical university and medical center achieved high rankings. The university achieved a lost-day rate of .16, while the university hospital achieved a rate of .28. “We compare very well to other like industries in South Carolina,” said Joe Avant, MUSC Occupational Safety and Health Programs director.
MUSC has improved its lost-day rate fivefold during the past 10 years. In 1999, the university sustained a lost-day rate average rate of .79. Avant credits the institutions’ success to the blood-borne pathogen and university safety committees, among other programs that monitor safe practices by employees.
Another contributing factor of MUSC’s safety record is transition duty, Avant said. This is when an employee has an injury that limits the ability to perform their assigned tasks. Under this alternate work program, the employee may complete other tasks while recuperating from their injury.
“If you can get people back to work, they seem to heal a lot quicker than if they were at home healing from their injuries,” Avant said. This is positive for both the employee and MUSC, because the employee remains productive and MUSC saves money in workers’ compensation costs.
Even though the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupa-tional Safety and Health Administration, hasn’t issued any new health care safety standards within the last eight years, MUSC is taking a proactive approach to keep employees healthy, Avant said. Some of the current initiatives include double-gloving to mitigate needle-stick exposures, use of blunt structures, and the patient lift team.
A number of new initiatives undertaken at the university also contribute to the overall success of the safety record. These initiatives including hiring a bio-safety officer, Daniel Eisenman, Ph.D., who ensures safe uses of biological materials in the labs. In addition, the university has stepped up its ergonomic evaluations, which are provided to employees as a way to promote the best working conditions. Avant encourages the use of safe health practices by everyone, and he urges new employees to take advantage of these programs via online training sessions. A commitment by all employees and managers to these initiatives will help maintain a healthy, hazard-free work environment, which also will prevent workplace injuries, he said.

Mission statement
The purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Programs is to provide a safe environment for all MUSC patients, students, employees, and visitors. The division is committed to ensuring regulatory compliance and customer satisfaction.
To request an ergonomic assessment or information on workplace safety, contact Avant at 792-3053; e-mail; or for program information visit

MUSC’s Injury Prevention Committees
University Safety
Environment of Care (EOC)
Blood-borne Pathogen
Preventing All MUSC Injuries (PAMIC)
Engineering and Facility Safety
Institutional Bio-safety (IBC)
Institutional Animal Care and Use (IACUC)

Friday, June 6, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.