Staff-Level Requirements Aren’t Just for Healthcare: Are You in Compliance?

Staff Ratios

With the defeat of Question 1 on the ballot in Massachusetts last week, many assume any issues of staffing ratios are a moot point unless they live in California, which is the only state with mandated staffing quotas for nursing staff.  Although many acute care facilities are still concerned about ensuring appropriate staffing levels to ensure both employee and patient satisfaction, particularly given current nurse shortages.  The long-term care side of the healthcare industry stipulates minimum staffing ratios for licensed care staff and, in some states, there are also regulations for the number of direct care staff to resident ratios for facilities with 100 or more residents as well as Payroll Based Journal reporting requirements to providing staffing level and skill-level censuses for facilities based on payroll records.

Healthcare and senior care are not the only industries affected by required worker counts, though.  There are also ratio requirements in place for childcare facilities/programs as well as student-teacher/aid ratios in schools.  OSHA has requirements on the number of workers needed to safely perform work on energized systems, referred to as the OSHA two-person rule.  Two-person rules (also known as the four-eyes rule) are also advised/mandated in hazardous environments such as laboratories, machine shops and in fire fighting or can include spotters for trucks backing up at construction sites.  These restrictions are in place most often so that first aid and/or rescue can be instantaneous in the event of an accident or to prevent one from happening.  OSHA also has specific communication and/or check-in requirements for when employees work alone, which would typically require a second worker (i.e. manager or supervisor) to be a party to the communication. Worker’s Compensation Insurance and equipment policies can also dictate the number of employees needed to operate certain machines or perform specific processes to prevent injury and/or damage to property, which typically includes having at least one worker with some specialized training.  Even an employer’s own handbook can specify security measures to protect personnel and property that create a duty to schedule the appropriate number of employees (e.g. closing shifts requiring two or more employees to prevent theft and safely close the establishment in addition to walking employees safely to vehicles).

Employers who fall under any of the regulations and/or rules and policies are often challenged to ensure that they have the right employees with the right training in the right place at the right time.  This problem can be further exacerbated when employees call in sick or miss work for other reasons such as vacation or leave of absences, even when planned and approved.  Having a dynamic employee scheduling solution can help address many of these problems.

CheckmateHCM’s Workforce Scheduler is one such solution.  It includes powerful functions and features that help HR and managers:

  • Automatically build baseline schedules to meet specified staffing levels based on job functions, training, skill levels and hourly work limit restrictions.
  • Alert shift supervisors, managers and HR when employees call in sick or do not show for work.
  • Permit shift swapping with automatic notification to managers for approval and audit trails.
  • Reduce or eliminate unnecessary overtime; project and control shift costs; and identify team and staffing efficiencies based on historical data to increase productivity.

Using the training and performance components of the all-in-one CheckmateHCM solution, employers can also stay on top of required training, track expiration dates for licensing and/or stipulated coursework and keep track of any necessary cross-training employees have to perform certain roles or tasks.  The time and attendance software module in CheckmateHCM can also help employers comply with OSHA’s lone worker rules by giving employees the ability to clock in and out while in the field and can be configured to even have them clock into a different cost center to note that the dangerous work has been completed, but they can still be on the clock performing another duty such as driving back to the office or traveling to another site.

Learn how the CheckmateHCM Workforce Scheduler can help you more efficiently run your business and also maintain compliance with any labor law regulations for staff / worker ratios.