Can ergonomics protect Healthcare workers ?

We barely remember them, but a few months ago, they were applauded every night at 8:00 p.m. For healthcare workers, the pandemic and the year 2021 have been a terrible ordeal. And since then, many people have wondered. How can we help these professions which have bent over backwards for us? By ergonomics, for example. Because we often forget that hospitals can be particularly dangerous for the professionals working there.

Doctors, nurses and support staff are under tremendous pressure to help patients. They use sharp objects, lift heavy loads and move at full speed in an environment often littered with obstacles. It is no coincidence that health is one of the sectors most exposed to occupational diseases and accidents.

During a digital session held at the National Ergonomics Conference ErgoExpo in the USA, two experts presented the most promising avenues for improving the daily life of healthcare professionals. In this case Curt DeWeese, director of Atlas Injury Prevention Solutions and Tricia Finley, manager of workers’ compensation / auto at Tenet Health. Selections from the conference “Managing Injuries in Hospitals: A Complete Solution for a Complex Environment” held on January 26, 2021.

The big issue: safe handling of patients

For both players, this is the area that presents the most risk. And therefore security leeway. “The average age of a healthcare worker is around 50 or 51,” notes Curt DeWeese. “As workers age, they see a decrease in their strength, endurance and balance.

As patients get fatter, sicker and more dependent, the demands of work have increased while capacity has diminished. “It is therefore recommended to systematically use patient lifting equipment. Even when the “load” seems low. Or mobility or friction reduction devices. Any tool that reduces the physical load is good to take.

Tricia Finley adds that adopting patient lifting equipment requires training. That is, a professional who assists practitioners in adopting new habits. Which is not without its obstacles. “It’s a change in mindset. If a patient falls, our nurses’ immediate response is to help them get up. We teach them that it takes the same time to use lifting equipment to help them get up without hurting themselves ”.

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The goal of mindfulness

The speakers then insisted on the need to move in a conscious manner. That is, by being 100% focused on the journey. Not easy when you work for tens of hours and have more and more patients to deal with. While speed is important – especially in places like emergency rooms or intensive care units – workers should remember that they can be safety conscious without wasting time.

Simple actions like inspecting a sharp trash can before placing an item inside can prevent injury. To help the nursing staff, Tricia Finley wants to focus on training. “The more resources and training we provide on safe choices, the more they take center stage when employees hustle. “

The widespread use of accessories when lifting patients and mindfulness when the practitioner moves. According to these two experts, the areas in which ergonomics can help healthcare workers the most.