MANUAL HANDLING: (Physical Hazard) – moving patients off a minor operating table, moving sick patients.
Musculoskeletal injuries, especially back injuries, is the number one most frequent injury experienced by healthcare workers who provide bedside nursing care. These injuries can be devastating and life changing. Injured workers experience pain and suffering and sometimes they cannot return to work. In recent years these types of injuries have gained national attention both from within and outside the healthcare industry. These injuries can have a significant impact on resources in terms of absenteeism and costs from claims arising from such incidents.
Stresses and strains arising from adopting awkward or static postures when treating patients can also give rise to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Activities such as supporting patient limbs and working in positions with little scope for changing posture for extended periods of time, can result in pain and the risks need to be assessed.
These injuries are mainly caused by the following:-
• Uncooperative patient.
• Awkward load liable to shift or drop.
• Preventing patient falling e.g. from a bed or commode chair.
• Lack of or inappropriate mechanical handling aids.
• Overexertion from lifting, transferring or repositioning patients.
• Improper lifting technique.
• Incorrect sling being used for the hoist.
• Unmaintained hoists.
Below are a number of ways in which we can avoid and help in the prevention of this injury.
Safe Client Handling and Movement: Identify and prevent environmental risk factors prior to lifting/positioning a patient, take the time to prepare the environment, organize the equipment and patient, and finally, yourself.
Prepare the environment: Clear a working area and eliminate any obstacles e.g. (chairs, tables, rugs etc.)
Prepare the equipment: Adjust the position of the equipment (bed, sidelyer, wheelchair, hoyer, etc). You may need to make adjustments to the patient’s wheelchair: include locking brakes, removing armrests, and positioning the wheelchair at an appropriate angle. Adjustments may also need to be made to the client’s bed include locking brakes, putting down side-rails, or adjusting bed height. 9 Ensure all devices are in good working order including belts, lifts, and slings.
Prepare the client: Explain what you are about to do with the patient and If necessary, move/reposition any personal medical devices (IV tubing, etc.)
Prepare yourself: Discuss the plan with lifting personnel and use simple instructions/one step commands. Ask for help before you begin the move or transfer. While you wait for someone to come and help you with a transfer, finish preparing yourself, the environment and the patient for the transfer, so when help comes, you are completely ready. Know how to do the transfer that is being used. Is it safe? Can you do it safely?
BIOLOGICAL: sick patients, exposure to workers when retires and their families come in sick. That’s a hazard for all workers.
Biological hazards refer to organisms or organic matters produced by these organisms that are harmful to human health. These include parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungi and protein. In general, there are three major of routes of entry for these micro-organisms into our body, i.e. through the respiratory system, transmission through contact with body fluids of the infected or contact with contaminated objects.
Caretakers and patients alike may be exposed to a large number of biological hazards. Patients may be carrying germs of which they are unaware. If proper controls are not in place, workers and other patients may unknowingly be exposed to viruses such as hepatitis B, bacteria and other biological agents. The work environment can also introduce biological hazards, such as mold.
Elimination of the source of contamination is fundamental to the prevention and control of biological hazards. Engineering controls such as improvement of ventilation, partial isolation of the contamination source, installation of negative pressure and separate ventilation and air-conditioning system (e.g. in medical wards for infectious diseases) and the use of ultraviolet lamps can help contain the spread of contaminants. If the contact with biological hazards cannot be prevented, the employees must use personal protective equipment and adhere strictly to the practice of personal hygiene. The personal protective equipment includes masks, gloves, protective clothing, eye shields, face shields and shoe covers.
The company should have in place a safe patient-handling program, if not, one should surely be implemented to ensure the safety of patients. This program should include assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
There are legal obligations on employers to:
• avoid hazardous manual handling tasks where possible, where they cannot be avoided
• reduce the risk to make the work activities as safe as possible.
Handbook of Occupational Hazards and Controls for Laboratory Workers (2011)
AOHP (Revised 2014). Beyond Getting Started: A Resource Guide for Implementing a Safe Patient
Handling Program in the Acute Care Setting
Canadian Center for Occupational Health ; safety (1997-2018. Ergonomic safe Patient Handling
Program. Retrieved 16 July, 2018 from
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