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  • Zmia Bertaud

Organizational Safety: Mandatory Vaccinations?


I keep hearing the media buzz about whether it is legal to refuse employment or terminate employees due to declining the COVID-19 vaccination. My questions go back to the healthcare professionals/front line healthcare workers... They are the first to receive the vaccine. Are they being forced? What are their viewpoints on being vaccinated?


I had an opportunity to get the opinion of four healthcare professionals across the U.S.


San Diego, CA Certified Nursing Assistant: "It's what I love... my job and taking care of people, so I decided to take the vaccine. I knew when I decided to land an occupation in healthcare that there were risks and this is one of them that I had to accept." Hospital employees are not being forced to take the vaccine and their opting out does not threaten their employment. With the help of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), those that remain unvaccinated feel they are contributing to the reduced contraction and the spread of the virus just by following the rules.


Pueblo West, CO Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) Supervisor: Took the first in the two-series Moderna vaccine. She stated, "It wasn't only about me, it was about my residents and the people that I work with. I felt like it was the right thing to do for our society as a whole." The medical facility did not mandate their healthcare professionals to take the vaccine, but are still requiring the wear of masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing rules even if you have taken the vaccine.


Herndon, VA Independent RBT Homecare Specialist: "I don't want to take it. I have a fear of the side effects and how it could be long term. Will my company take financial responsibility if this vaccine causes me to become disabled and unemployed? The professional said, "If they say it is mandatory and I could lose hours or my job if I don't take it, then I'll have to take it in order to keep my job." The professional made statements in reference to the Pfizer vaccine and Bells Palsy (you read can read more at https://www.fda.gov/media/144245/download).


St Louis, MO Registered Nurse (RN): "I have spoken to other people at my job and many have agreed that if the vaccine is made mandatory, they will be leaving the healthcare profession. I have my doubts about the vaccine, because I feel there has not been enough research. I may feel more comfortable after 6 months or a year, but if made mandatory to maintain my work as a RN, I'd take it. I am afraid and I hope I can wait it out till the summer or next year." Periodic COVID testing is still in effect along side the forgoing of vaccinations. There has been no concrete information on whether safety measures will be lowered or changed in lieu of the vaccinations.


Organizational Safety is a discipline of study that derived from the research of James Reasons (Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Manchester, England) and Charles B. Perrow (Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Yale University). It is defined as the combined result of several factors namely human behavior, organizational factors as

supervision, work conditions and processes, planning and organizational learning and latent conditions as the absence or dysfunctional nature of physical and functional barriers to prevent accidents, the lack of resources to mitigate threats and neutralize events or the

precarious system conditions that make it highly sensitive and unstable (D’Oliveira and Mario, 2004). Administering the COVID vaccine is set within the guidelines to carry out organizational safety measures that are to counter the disastrous effects of the virus itself among employees and ultimately among the community. If the vaccine is not mandatory, all factors of safety must be maintained within any organization until there is a new approach to keeping employees safe and healthy.


Culture transcends the psychology of any single person. Individuals can easily forget to be afraid. A safe culture, however, can compensate for this by providing the reminders and ways of working that go to create and sustain intelligent wariness. The individual burden of chronic unease is also made more supportable by knowing that the collective concern is not so much with the occasional – and inevitable – unreliability of its human parts, as with the continuing resilience of the system as a whole (Reason, 2010). A safety culture depends solely on the responsibilities of organizations to keep policies up to date, continuously educate their employees, and allow for open communication on matters that affect the safety of others. If half of the organization has opted to take the vaccine and the other half has opted out, new safety standards must be in place and explained across the organization. Vaccinees may feel punished to continue donning a mask in order to safeguard the lives of those who have opposed taking the vaccine. On the other hand, non-Vaccinees may believe wholeheartedly in herd immunity and feel they are no longer at risk. With all that has been said, in the meantime, organizations must continue to influence the intrinsic value of practicing organizational safety and using the appropriate PPE without falling prey to complacency that breeds human error and jeopardizes a safety culture.


References.

D'Oliveira, T. and Mario, C. (2004, November 7). Organizational Safety: From Safety Culture to Resilience. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267926244_Organizational_safety_From_safety_culture_to_organizational_resilience

Reason, J. (2010, August 9). Injury Control and Safety Promotion. Retrieved from https://fdocuments.us/document/safety-paradoxes-and-safety-culture.html


Disclaimer: This article may or may not be based on research results, but is a personal construct theory from personal observation and personal experience of current events. All articles of APM are to provoke thought and influence future research.



Author: Graduate Student of Touro University Worldwide, Industrial and Organizational Psychology Major, May 2021 expected grad date