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Monday, December 3, 2007

"Safe Lifting Environment" Campaign Addresses Caregiver Lifting Injuries

At Safe Lifting Portal caregivers can join the "Safe Lifting Environment Campaign and Support Injury Prevention, which is an industry wide effort to reduce caregiver injuries. Caregivers in the health industry have one of the highest rates of back injuries due to the lifting involved. An analysis done by The National Institute for Safety and Health recommends a 35 pound limit for patient handling tasks. Whether you are lifting people from the bed to a wheelchair, doing a partial lift for a transfer, or repositioning someone who is in bed there are techniques and lifting devices to prevent back injuries.

Tom Waters, Phd. in the August 2007 American Journal of Nursing refers to an analysis that recommends a 35 pound limit for patient handling. The analysis was done by the National Institute for Safety and Health.

At the website for Nursing Center you can read the article by Tom Water, PHd, about the 1994 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation and the recommended 35 pound maximum weight limit for patient handling.

When I worked for caregiver agencies it was not uncommon to be asked by a patient/client to do a total lift of a patient weighting around 100 pounds from the bed to the wheelchair. Because I had previous training as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Home Health Aide, and in Acute Care, I knew the dangers. I would decline to do a lift like this, and requested a lift device, which can be delivered to the home. Get more help and/or use a lift device when this happens in order to be safe. A patient or client could also be dropped or both people could fall during a heavy lift.

Often the patients do not wish to be lifted by a lift device, perhaps because it is a new and strange idea. Or the caregivers may not use one because they are not familiar with the lift device or trained in how to use it. In facilities the caregivers, aides, and nurses are working under a time pressure, and the lifts may be in use by someone else.

When the lift device is introduced in a user friendly manner, and the caregivers are trained well, it can become another part of the usual routine.

There is a list of states at the website which have passed or introduced legislation to reduce injuries from "hazardous manual lifting."

OSHA, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration has released ergonomic guidelines for nursing homes with guidance to reduce lift injureis.

Family caregivers provide the majority of home care, and too frequently they do not realize the risks they are taking when they lift people from the bed to the wheelchair, or do transfers when people are too weak to assist. Repositioning people in bed, which requires leaning over and lifting is also a risk. But, there are lift devices that can do the work and save people from back injuries.

Frequently caregivers and their patients do not use safe lifting techniques due to lack of training and lack of familiarity with lift devices. For more information you can visit the The Safe Lifting Portal , which also has a section called "Ask the Lift Doctor" where you can submit your questions.

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