Having a successful safe patient handling program means more than owning equipment: it means having the right amount of equipment that is right for the job and easily accessible to workers when they need it. Here are some ways to get the right equipment for your hospital:
Involve your front-line staff in testing and selecting equipment. The people who actually move patients are a valuable resource when determining the equipment most appropriate to each unit.
Choose equipment based on the specific lifting, transfer, and movement needs of each unit and patient population.
Make sure the equipment is conveniently located, readily available, and accessible so that staff can use it without keeping patients waiting or delaying other tasks.
Put systems in place to ensure that mechanical equipment is maintained and supplies such as slings and transfer sheets are kept clean and stocked. Staff cannot use mechanical equipment if it is broken or not charged. Further, equipment that has not been maintained properly could result in injuries to both caregivers and patients.
Consider partnering with an equipment vendor. Vendors can help you develop your safe handling program, host equipment fairs, troubleshoot issues, answer questions, and maintain and replace equipment.
In 2001, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs published Patient Care Ergonomics Resource Guide: Safe Patient Handling and Movement, Part 1* and Part 2*. This resource provides product feature rating surveys and product ranking surveys to help facilities determine the best equipment for them based on caregiver and patient feedback.
U.S. Department of Labor | Occupational Safety & Health Administration | 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210 Telephone: 800-321-OSHA (6742) | TTY www.OSHA.gov
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