Long-Term Efficacy of an Ergonomics Program That Includes Patient-Handling Devices on Reducing Musculoskeletal Injuries to Nursing Personnel

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 784, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA.
Human Factors The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (Impact Factor: 1.69). 08/2012; 54(4):608-25. DOI: 10.1177/0018720812438614
Source: PubMed


The aim of this study was to evaluate long-term efficacy of an ergonomics program that included patient-handling devices in six long-term care facilities (LTC) and one chronic care hospital (CCH).
Patient handling is recognized as a major source of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among nursing personnel, and several studies have demonstrated effectiveness of patient-handling devices in reducing those MSDs. However, most studies have been conducted in a single facility, for a short period, and/or without a comprehensive ergonomics program.
Patient-handling devices along with a comprehensive ergonomics program was implemented in six LTC facilities and one CCH. Pre- and postintervention injury data were collected for 38.9 months (range = 29 to 54 months) and 51.2 months (range = 36 to 60 months), respectively.
Postintervention patient-handling injuries decreased by 59.8% (rate ratio [RR] = 0.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] [0.28, 0.49], p < .001), lost workdays by 86.7% (RR = 0.16, 95% CI [0.13, 0.18], p < .001), modified-duty days by 78.8% (RR = 0.25, 95% CI [0.22, 0.28], p < .001), and workers' compensation costs by 90.6% (RR = 0.12, 95% CI [0.09, 0.15], p < .001). Perceived stresses to low back and shoulders among nursing staff were fairly low. A vast majority of patients found the devices comfortable and safe. Longer transfer times with the use of devices was not an issue.
Implementation of patient-handling devices along with a comprehensive program can be effective in reducing MSDs among nursing personnel. Strategies to expand usage of patient-handling devices in most health care settings should be explored.

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    • "However the potential impact of these developments received little attention until the emergence of MSD symptoms within the nursing workforce (Collins & Menzel, 2006). This prompted the education of nurses in 'good body mechanics', an approach devoid of empirical evidence, alongside judgements about the competency and integrity of injured nurses (Collins & Menzel, 2006; Garg & Kapellusch, 2012). Medical and educational paradigms have continued to dominate manual handling injury prevention strategies (Charney et al., 2010; HSE, 2007; Koppelaar, Knibbe, Miedema, & Burdorf, 2013). "
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    • "Hence the identification of elements crucial to consistent injury prevention has remained elusive [22] [23] [24] . A flotilla of ergonomic guidelines and policies intended to counter manual handling issues have produced only partial success to date [4] [12] [13] [25] "
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