Moving objects and people of diverse shapes, weights and sizes, in various settings, can be a challenging and hazardous task. It is important for healthcare professionals to follow correct procedures to minimise risks towards both staff and patients. Improper procedures frequently lead to a number of musculoskeletal injuries, the most common of which are back injuries.
Back injuries among NHS staff is a major issue. In 2011 alone, the cost of back injuries to NHS staff was around £400 million, a sum enough to employ 16000 Band 5 nurses for a year. This includes money lost due to sickness, absences, wasted training and those forced to leave the profession. Due to the physical nature of their roles, Nurses are especially vulnerable to back injuries, each year over 80 000 nurses injure their backs at work. A further 3600 healthcare workers are forced to retire after receiving life-changing injuries, costing the NHS £60 000 each, per year.
Lifting injuries are mainly due to the extra strain put on a spine that is already carrying the weight of the body. Nurses are often required to manoeuvre and lift patients without special equipment, this is a risky task even with extra help. James Collins of the USA’s NIOSH Division of Safety Research outlined the disparity between the strains that nurses faced, compared with to those in other professions. Focusing on workers at an auto factory, he states:
“93 percent [were] men, heavily tattooed, macho workforce, Harley-Davidson rider type guys…and they were prohibited from lifting over 35 pounds (15.87 kg) through the course of their work.” Nursing employees in a typical hospital lift far heavier patients a dozen or more times every day. “That was my biggest shock and surprise.”
Patient falls are also another risk factor to consider. Most patient falls are due to incorrect manual handling practices and incorrect use of equipment such as hoists. This has led to a number of serious injuries and even deaths. According to the NHS, there were 15 recent incidents and 1 death in the last year, due to the improper use of various mechanical hoists.
Train Healthcare offers a Manual Handling of People & Inanimate Objects course aimed at all those who work and care for others who require assistance to mobilise and transfer safely. It will be useful to all health & social care staff, i.e. Midwives, Nurses, Community based staff, Inpatient ward staff, Nursery workers, Primary Care staff, Domiciliary Care workers and Residential Care Workers. This course is approved by the Skills for Health government regulatory body.
- Spinal mechanics and function
- Importance of back care and posture, risk factors for back pain
- Current relevant legislation and professional guidelines where relevant
- Safe management of inanimate loads
- Handling strategies for clients with impaired mobility
- Dealing with unpredictable occurrences
- Use of equipment
- Assessment of risks addressing: – tasks (including unexpected) – the limits of individuals capability (their own and that of others) – loads (both inanimate and human) – environment and the importance of good housekeeping
- Importance of ergonomic approach
- Principles of normal human movement and promotion of client independence
- Problem solving