Preventing Back Injuries in Health Care Settings

Recommended steps from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for preventing back injuries in health care workers.

A Program to Prevent Back Injuries in Health Care Workers Includes:
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-Mechanical devices for lifting patients and transferring cart tops, X-ray tables, and other heavy objects
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-Wheels and other devices for transporting heavy, nonportable equipment
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-Adequate staffing to prevent workers from lifting heavy patients or equipment alone
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-Close supervision for newly trained worker to assure that proper lifting practices have been learned
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-In-service education for both new and experienced staff on the proper measures for avoiding back injuries
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-Preplacement evaluation of workers. Workers with significant pre-existing back disorders should not be assigned jobs that require lifting. Preplacement strength testing may occasionally help in assigning workers to tasks that routinely involved moving very heavy objects.
Training Program for Health Care Workers
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-Proper lifting techniques
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-Preventing initial back injuries. Because a back that has already sustained an injury is much more likely to be reinjured, preventing the first back injury is the most important step
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-Requesting help. When in doubt about whether a task may strain the back, a worker should request help rather than taking a chance
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-Performing back exercises. Some exercises can be used to strengthen the back muscles and help prevent back injuries. A physician or physical therapist should be consulted
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-Transferring patients. Patient transfers are particularly hazardous for hospital workers and are not often covered in general publications on preventing back injury. The following special points should be emphasized to prevent back injuries during transfers:
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1.Communicate the plan of action to the patient and other workers to ensure that the transfer will be smooth and without sudden, unexpected moves
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2.Position equipment and furniture effectively (for example, move a wheelchair next to the bed) and remove obstacles
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3.Ensure good footing for the staff and patient (patients should wear slippers that provide good traction)
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4.Maintain eye contact and communication with patient: be alert for trouble signs
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5.If help is needed, request that a co-worker stand by before attempting the transfer
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6.Record any problems on the patient’s chart so that other shifts will know how to cope with difficult transfers; note the need for any special equipment, such as a lift.
Created by Smith62. This checklist is public.
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