How to practice safe handling as a nursing assistant

In a recent post, we discussed how common musculoskeletal injuries are for nursing assistants and orderlies. Even if your medical clinic does not offer the best in safety equipment or safety techniques, there are ways to prevent yourself from suffering a back injury at work. The Center for Disease Control has addressed the safety concerns facing nurses and orderlies on their website. They have a few tips on how to avoid such workplace injuries.

First, the CDC discusses how these types of injuries may occur. The most common musculoskeletal injuries occur in the healthcare field when a worker overexerts themselves. This could happen for example when an obese patient falls out of bed. If that person does not have the ability to get up, the nursing staff must then lift that person back into bed. It is not uncommon for these people to weigh close to 500 pounds. If a 120 pound nursing assistant attempts to lift even a part of this person, it could cause a back injury.

There is a safer way to lift this type of patient other than just simply using every ounce of strength and lifting the patient back into bed. For example, nursing assistants can benefit from ergonomics. Ergonomics in this case refers to the use of mechanical equipment and safety procedures to lift and move patients. This will minimize the exertion that health care workers may encounter thereby reducing their risk of injury. This also is beneficial for the patient because the machine is likely to lift them more comfortably and safely than a nurse struggling to lift him or her.

While some medical situations require the use knowledge and expertise of a trained professional, some tasks are better left to machines. This will prevent future workplace injuries from occurring. But in reality, not all medical machines will be available in all situations. This is why it is good that nursing assistants and other medical professionals are aware of the dangers they are exposed to in the workplace.

Source:, "Safe Patient Handling," Accessed Feb. 15, 2015

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