Key Points in the Ergonomics System Approach to Reducing Musculoskeletal Injuries Related to Patient-Handling

1. Risk Identification and Assessment

• identify perceived high-risk situations
• determine methods of assessment
• develop specific data collection tools

2. Risk Analysis

• examine injury experience
• determine correlations
• match with perceived high-risk activities
• analyze jobs for risk factors
• prioritize tasks, jobs, or areas for prevention programs

3. Formulation of Recommendations

• determine where change is needed
• consider available engineering controls (examples: lifting devices, height-adjustable beds, wheelchairs that convert into stretchers)
• assess possible administrative controls (examples: scheduling changes, minimized patient transfers, job rotation, worker preselection, lifting teams)

4. Implementation of Recommendations

• establish implementation team
• provide widespread educational awareness sessions
• teach staff new techniques for transferring patients
• establish specific mechanisms for implementation
• create buy-in and enthusiasm
• set up effective medical management system

5. Measurement and Evaluation

• select indicators for evaluation
• collect and organize data
• present data as useful information
• modify system as needed
• establish continuous improvement cycle

Source: Guy Fragala, PhD, PE, CSP, "Applying ergonomics to prevent nursing back injuries in hospitals," Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare annual conference, Oct. 22, 1998, Orlando, FL.