Who’s Got Your Back?
Through a solid ergonomic approach, healthcare workers lower their risk of overexertion while patients gain a sense of safety and comfort.
Ergonomics. It’s fun to say and has become quite the buzzword, but what does it really mean? Simply stated, Ergonomics is the science of designing work tasks to suit the capabilities of the worker. In relation to patient handling, it also involves tools and safety procedures designed to help lift and move patients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), manual patient lifting is the single greatest risk factor for musculoskeletal injuries in healthcare workers. That hurts just thinking about it.
Ergonomics takes a deep dive into the task at hand. It evaluates the actual work environment for potential pitfalls and clearly identifies the limitations of the caregivers performing the tasks. Through a solid ergonomic approach, healthcare workers lower their risk of overexertion while patients gain a sense of safety and comfort. Easy. Right?
Well, not quite. When it comes to safe patient handling there are many facets to take into account. Think ALERT – Awkward postures, Length of exposure, Exertions, Repetition and Twisted torsos. That’s a lot that could go wrong. Working with various parts of the body in bent or awkward positions for any length of time puts undue stress on the muscles. Overexertion and repetitive motions further tax the body causing fatigue, pain, inflammation and ultimately injuries. And just the word twisted torso conjures up images of strained spines. So, how can safe patient handling indeed be safe?
Proper body mechanics and clever safe patient handling tools to the rescue! Body mechanics is the way the body moves. Moving the body properly helps avoid muscle fatigue and injuries particularly when caring for patients. When handling patients, it’s important to keep feet in a wide and stable base. Beds should be set to the correct level depending on the activity and excessive reaching and trunk rotation should be avoided. Keep the patients close.
But you don’t have to go it alone. Drawsheets and pillows aren’t the only options for patient turning, boosting, and repositioning. Safe patient handling products strategically crafted with ergonomic principles in mind are readily available. Use them. Back pain is prevalent among caregivers and you don’t want to be a statistic! Explore ergonomic options for patient handling. We’ve got your back.
*Lackey, Linda. RN, MSN, FNP. (July 12, 2010). Low Back Pain the Nurse’s Nemesis. Nursing Continuing Education. 28-33.