June 15, 2015
One of the fields that is most closely monitored and educated in regards to safety is nursing. This group consistently comes in at the top of the charts when reporting for work-related illness and injury. There are 3 basic avenues to which nurse safety is routinely being improved: nursing school, legislation (passing bills on hospital requirements), and evolving ergonomics. Of those, the one that can be implemented the fastest is ergonomics. More and more hospitals are taking it upon themselves to strive for the best equipment and safest environment. A hospital in Connecticut stays current on ergonomic training and equipment with the goal of being the safest hospital in the state. A hospital with that kind of ranking would have an easier time attracting both staff and patients than those without. Let’s look at some of the ways hospitals improve safety for their staff.
- Devices that lift: nurses spend much of their day lifting, whether it’s objects or people. The heavier of the two is clearly the latter, but both take their tolls on the body. There are several kinds of lifts designed to transfer and lift patients. Some still require some manual labor while others are completely mechanized. Hospitals following a “no lift” policy find that the frequency, intensity, and recovery time of work-related injury is significantly reduced when all lifting is mechanized. Lifting solutions also exist for other kinds of lifting nurses have to do. Motorized equipment can help carry and move objects as well as empty receptacles and complete other repetitive tasks that require lifting, bending, and twisting.
- Devices to push and pull: nurses rarely show up to a patient empty-handed. Their job often requires moving large carts that vary in weight. Most carts are not designed for specific individuals, meaning the height of the handle is standard. This can make as big a difference in how pushing and pulling affects the body as does the weight of the cart. Cart designs that solve this problem range from adjustable handles and shelves to motorized carts that eliminate the stress of pushing and pulling completely.
- Devices that spare distance: nurses are on their feet throughout their entire shift. Add to that the fact that most are working varied hours or double shifts, and you can guess what their energy levels must be like at work. Devices or equipment that allow for workstations to be centralized or portable can save staff a lot of extra walking. A few steps may not seem like a big deal, but it all adds up; a few steps spared as often as possible is equal to less fatigue and greater focus on other things.
Researching ergonomic equipment for hospitals is interesting because of the variety of equipment. Researching the success of ergonomics in hospitals is exciting because it shows not only a high success rate of reducing injuries, but consequently, also a return on the investment. If your hospital has updated ergonomic equipment for nurses, you are likely to be in the hands of a nurse who experiences less pain and fatigue than those in hospitals without the equipment. The better the healthcare professional is taken care of, the better you are taken care of.