By: Ted Engler
Do worker’s injuries turn your facility’s bottom line into a leaky bucket?
According to OSHA: “More workers are injured in the healthcare and social assistance industry sector than any other. This industry has one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses. In 2017, the healthcare and social assistance industry reported more injury and illness cases than any other private industry sector — 582,800 cases (2017 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, BLS). That is 153,900 more cases than the next industry sector, manufacturing.”
Patient lifting technology has been around for 30 years or more and has made a difference. Many facilities that have purchased Patient Lifts and Sit to Stands have save 10’s of thousands of dollars but some have seen little result.
There are two reasons for successful “Safe Patient Handling Programs.” First is dedication of a program from all management. Support must come from all upper level management down to front line workers that have been specially trained to become “champions.” Second, you must have complete support from your Patient Lift manufacturer. Products must be designed from beginning to end with your Safe Patient Handling program in mind. I will explain what this means.
Today a facility can purchase an electric patient lift on-line for only a few thousand dollars. You will be able to transfer a patient or resident from point A to point B without any problems. However, what if it needs repair or you need a special sling for an amputee or, even worse, your employees do not know how to operate the lift. Every day the lift or stand is out of service you are at risk of a very expensive injury.
My suggestion: find a lift that is built very rugged and can take heavy weights. I have been in the ergonomic products business for over 25 years and continually hear: “our patients get heavier and heavier every year.” Look at warranties. For a product as critical as a patient lift, one year will not cut it. The manufacture must stand behind this equipment for multiple years. Once you are sure the equipment will handle the heavier weights and will last in your environment there are other things to look for: backup controls so one broken switch does not take the lift out of service, back up batteries to keep the process going once one battery dies, product consultations from well trained staff, on-site training even years after purchase and other training services. Also, can the manufacturer get parts to you quickly to avoid long downtime.
Also, when purchasing a lift, keep a focus on reducing employee injuries. The money saved here will more than make up the cost of your equipment.
Ted Engler is President of WorkSafe Products, a company that specializes in reducing injuries in coorporate offices and health care facilities. Ted’s 38 yeas of experience in looking at Human Factors in the workplace has been shared with some of the largest corporations and hospital chains in the midwest. Find more information: www.worksafeproducts.com