Sanford reports a 53% drop in staff injuries following security upgrades

Security guards, weapons detectors, and de-escalation training are just a few things Sanford has implemented to improve workplace safety.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

According to OSHA, a hospital is one of the most hazardous workplaces. Their website states that in 2019, U.S. hospitals recorded more than 221,000 work-related injuries and illnesses; nearly twice the rate seen in private industries.

“There’s anything from serious assaults to just minor groping,” explains Brett Wigglesworth, the Program Manager of Security at Sanford.

He says, staff at Fargo’s Sanford hospital experiences about 700 verbal and physical altercations each year, which was an issue exacerbated by the pandemic.

“It was high before, and then the stress of a pandemic kind of shot those numbers through the roof,” explains Wigglesworth.

He says that through the height of covid, workplace violence increased by 51%. The increase of violence was part of what prompted Sanford to create his role and in the 2 years since that happened, they’ve seen a decrease in staff injuries by 53%.

Wiggleworth says, “It shows us that our staff are able to successfully de-escalate those patients before they get physical.”

They attribute the decrease to de-escalation training for staff, plus cameras and the new weapons detector.

They’ve had them for about one month now and most commonly have detected pocket knives.

“Usually, people go and bring it back to their vehicle and then come back in,” says Wigglesworth.

“It just allows us to stop anyone that may be bringing a weapon in at that door and turn them away,” adds Senior Director of Facilities, Jason Nelson.

While the security team admits that these measures aren’t 100% effective. It feels like a step in the right direction.

“The biggest thing is to empower employees to speak out for their own safety and do everything that we possibly can to prevent them from being injured at work,” says Wigglesworth.

We’ve previously covered the new weapons detector at the Sanford ER in Fargo.