As a health care worker, you must be ready to maneuver patients safely and quickly. Lifting patients could be vital in an emergency or as part of ongoing care.
However, patient handling can put significant strain on your neck and back. Nursing assistants, registered nurses, emergency medical services workers and nursing home caregivers are some of the workers who commonly face this risk. Review some strategies to protect yourself from serious injuries.
Use lifting equipment to your benefit
Patient lifts and transfer devices can greatly reduce the pressure on your muscles. When lifting equipment is available, take advantage of the opportunity to reduce injury risks – even if it may be inconvenient to set up.
Unfortunately, equipment can be expensive, and hospital administrators or facility leaders might not understand the value of purchasing lifting equipment. However, when employees advocate for a cost-benefit analysis, facilities might discover that the rewards, such as reducing workers’ compensation costs, may be worthwhile.
Consider your posture
Caring for patients might require heavy lifting at odd angles. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has guidelines for lifting heavy objects, but it affirms that lifting patients should be treated differently.
Knowing the best posture and tactics to distribute weight evenly can be valuable. In the moment, posture can be easy to forget. Study any ergonomics guidelines or training from your employer from time to time, and practice good lifting posture regularly.
Detect potential risks before lifting
Ideally, your patient will be still and cooperative as you move them. However, this is not the case for all patients. If you expect patient resistance, take as many precautions as you can to protect both yourself and your patient.
Take time to fully recover from any injuries
If you pull a muscle or suffer another type of injury, do not push yourself to go back to work too soon. It is important to take day-to-day injuries seriously, including by taking time off of work to heal when necessary.
Workers’ compensation can allow health care workers to take time off and get medical care – without the burden of lost income. After a back, shoulder or neck injury, this option can help you get the treatment you need.