Health & Safety Institute Blog

March 20, 2018

Patient Lifting and Transfer Safety

The manual lifting and transferring of patients is a primary cause of injury for healthcare workers. Is your staff following best practices when performing these typical workplace tasks?

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

Rates of musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion in healthcare occupations are among the highest of all U.S. industries. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that in 2014, the rate of overexertion injuries averaged across all industries was 33 per 10,000 full time workers. By comparison, the overexertion injury rate for hospital workers was twice the average (68 per 10,000), the rate for nursing home workers was over three times the average (107 per 10,000), and the rate for ambulance workers was over five times the average (174 per 10,000). The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in healthcare workers is the manual lifting, moving and repositioning of patients, residents or clients, i.e., manual patient handling.

NIOSH offers a “Fast Facts” sheet for healthcare employers and employees with best practices to follow whenever lifting and moving patients, including:

  • Using ergonomic devices such as slip sheets, slide boards, rollers, slings, belts, and mechanical or electronic hoists.
  • Following proper body mechanics practices like moving along the side of the patient’s bed instead of reaching, and standing as close as possible to the patient without twisting your back and keeping your knees bent and feet apart when executing a manual move. To avoid twisting the spine, make sure one foot is in the direction of the move. Using gentle rocking motions can also reduce exertion.

If you need safe patient lifting training at your organization, HSI offers specialized courses designed for hospital, nursing home, assisted living and other facilities, as well as for first responders.

Summit’s Patient Lifting & Transfer

This course teaches healthcare workers how to prevent risks and reduce the intense physical stress of moving patients. Topics include:

  • Common injuries and hazards
  • Lift techniques
  • Body mechanics
  • Equipment aides
  • Assessment and algorithms

Explore Summit's Course Library

First Responder Training from 24-7 EMS

Lifting and Moving
This class reviews steps for safe lifting and moving. Power lifts, squat lifts and power grips are defined and demonstrated. Patient-moving devices and three types of emergency moves are reviewed and demonstrated. The class re-emphasizes the importance of good physical fitness and conditioning, as well as the use of good body mechanics to prevent injury.

Bariatric Patient: Care and Transport
This program illustrates the assessment, treatment and transport of a morbidly obese patient. Morbidly obese patients often suffer from a multitude of health concerns; assessments can be complex and may need to be modified. It is important for EMS not to get caught up in the operational aspects of transport and to remember these patients need care and respect.

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