Safe patient handling tips for Ohio hospital workers

Lifting and other work-related injuries are common for hospital workers, but there are steps they can take to help improve their safety.

Hospitals in Ohio and elsewhere may be dynamic, unpredictable working environments. Consequently, injuries are common among nurses, technicians and other health care providers who work in the hospital setting. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were 294,000 occupational injuries suffered by hospital workers in 2014 alone. Often sprains and strains, the causes of work-related injuries for employees at hospitals often involve bodily reaction and overexertion. Therefore, understanding how to safely move patients may help hospital workers protect themselves.

Enlist patients' cooperation

Before lifting patients, it may be helpful for hospital workers to explain to them what they are planning to do. Due to deteriorated health conditions, a lack of mobility or other issues, patients may not be able to move themselves or offer much assistance. However, their understanding may help reduce any resistance, which could result in injuries for them or the employees who are attempting to lift of move them.

Use assistive equipment

Many hospitals have invested in assistive equipment and implemented safety protocols to help prevent their workers from suffering herniated disks and other occupational injuries. Such equipment may include lifting devices, adjustable beds and shower chairs. People who work with patients in the hospital setting should familiarize themselves with how these devices operate and use them whenever possible.

Use good body mechanics

Using good body mechanics may also help workers in hospitals avoid some on-the-job injuries. When handling and moving patients, employees are advised to keep a wide and stable base with their feet. They may minimize reaching by keeping the patient as close to them as possible, and keeping their work directly in front of them may help them avoid rotating their spines. It is also recommended that hospital workers put patients' beds at the correct height to ensure they are not bending over or reaching up while they work.

Stay fit

People may not think of nursing and other health care professions as physically strenuous professions, but these workers may be asked to lift, reposition or transfer patients. Thus, it may be helpful for employees in hospitals to maintain their flexibility and muscle strength. Having the strength necessary to perform their job duties may reduce the risk of harm coming to them or their patients.

Wear appropriate footwear

Often working long shifts, hospital workers may spend prolonged periods of time standing or walking on hard floors. This may put stress on their backs, which could contribute to them suffering occupational injuries. Therefore, it is suggested that people who work in hospitals wear comfortable, supportive footwear to help provide some shock absorption.

Seeking legal assistance

Ohio hospital workers may be entitled to workers' compensation when they suffer on-the-job injuries. However, obtaining those benefits is not always straightforward and navigating the system may further complicate an already challenging situation. Thus, people who work in the hospital setting and have suffered occupational injuries may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A lawyer may help them understand their rights and options, as well as guide them through the claims process.