A Bureau of Labor Statistics report revealed that across all industries, 33 of 10,000 full time workers suffered from overexertion injuries. However, this type of injury doubled when looking at hospital workers – and more than tripled for employees working in long-term care facilities. In long-term care facilities, this heightened rate of injury is attributed to the fact that healthcare workers are often responsible for the lifting, repositioning or moving of their residents.
A frequently cited study by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that in an eight hour shift, the average weight lifted by a nurse is about 1.8 tons. Repeatedly lifting this amount of weight in an improper manner can lead to a variety of injuries, including sprains, strains and tears.
To reduce the risk of injury to caregivers and residents, healthcare facilities must ensure that all employees are properly trained in safe patient handling techniques:
Having an employee hurt or injured on the job can not only adversely affect your workforce and employee morale, but it can have a negative impact on overall patient care and can even damage your company’s bottom line. In a 2011 study, OSHA reported that 25 percent of workers compensation claims in the healthcare industry resulted from patient handling injuries, further proving how crucial safe patient handling education is in healthcare institutions. To mitigate risk, organizational leadership and nurse managers should ensure that safe patient handling remains a priority. Guidelines should be set and staff members should be trained and re-trained to ensure they’re fully comfortable with equipment and body positioning.