Back Safety for Healthcare

this training program applies to health care employees whose job requires them to lift patients or other heavy objects lifting and moving patients is a large portion of the work performed by healthcare workers and results in the profession having one of the highest back injury rates in the nation based upon recent statistics there are 67,000 back injuries each year among healthcare workers which total as much as 1.7 billion dollars in workers compensation claims in spite of this problem many health care institutions have successfully prevented many back injuries let's learn how this training program will instruct employees regarding the structure of the back common back problems proper lifting techniques and how to maintain a healthy back the back is made up of many components the primary components are the spine spinal cord and muscles the spine made of small bones called vertebrae are part of the back that supports the trunk and head it protects the spinal cord as well as giving flexibility to the body the vertebrae are connected together by discs which act like shock absorbers the spinal cord the brain and the peripheral nervous system are the major components of the central nervous system there are 31 pairs of nerves that extend out of the spinal cord and into the body there are approximately 400 muscles that help stabilize the spine and ensure proper posture more than 1,000 tendons connect these muscles to the spine injuries are often the result of years of neglect until the back becomes weak then any sudden movement or improper lifting technique can cause injury back pain can last a few days or even several years there are several injuries that can occur to the back including strains strains are caused by over stretching bending and lifting incorrectly or slouching and carrying extra body weight strains result when ligaments in the back are continually misused by poor posture or from being overweight or by placing stress on previously unused muscle repeated or over strain can cause a herniated disc or slipped disc this is when the jelly-like fluid in the disc leaks and puts pressure on the surrounding nerves the loss of fluid in the disc then allows the vertebra to rub against each other another back injury is over flexion or bending over too far which causes pressure on the discs resulting in pain and stiffness sprains are caused by sudden movements or twisting sprains are ligament injuries often caused because the muscles don't have time to react such injuries are usually the result of accidents or falls over extension or arching backwards too far puts all the weight of the load on the facets between the vertebrae causing injury a ruptured disc occurs when the disc is torn open and the jelly-like substance pours out problems with the alignment of the spine or a growth on the vertebrae can cause a pinched nerve a pinched nerve sends pain down the legs or causes numbness tingling or pain in the arms hands or fingers painful muscle spasms occur when the muscle receives too many impulses from the nerves causing it to contract beyond normal capacity to minimize the possibility of back injury employees need to practice safe lifting techniques the following techniques should be used when lifting will first discuss general safe lifting techniques for any workplace lifting and then we will apply those techniques specifically to the lifting of patients here are a few general lifting guidelines plan ahead before lifting an object know where it will be placed the path should be clear of any obstacles this will help prevent any awkward movements while carrying the load if lifting with another person agree on the plan beforehand bend at the knees and keep the back straight focus on keeping your spine straight to shift most of the weight off your back and on to your legs keep your eyes up and look straight ahead this will help keep your back straight keep feet shoulder width apart having a more solid base will provide better support if your feet are too close together good balance will be difficult to achieve too far apart and your ability to move will be greatly reduced when turning move your feet never twist your back and tighten the abdominal muscles keeping your abdomen tight will help your back remain in good lifting position and help keep you from straining your back lift the object close to your body this will keep your body stabilized while lifting when the object is too far from your body additional stress is placed on your back get a firm grip on the object to help keep it balanced and finally lift with your legs your legs are stronger than your back use the strong leg muscles in your favor when lowering the object bend your knees and keep your back straight now let's talk about lifting patients lifting patients is the most strenuous activity done by most healthcare workers always use available equipment when lifting or moving patients or other heavy objects it's very important that you have been properly trained before using equipment for lifting it is especially important that you have had a properly supervised practice before the use of equipment to lift patients however the use of equipment will not always be an option when manual lifting is necessary please follow these guidelines always use equipment or assistance when available communicate your plan with the patient and with coworkers that are assisting remove any obstacles and correctly position any furniture or equipment and lock the wheels here are a few guidelines for lateral transfers and repositioning lower the rails on both surfaces of the bed and gurney and lay both surfaces flat position services as close to each other as possible both surfaces should be at approximately waist use draw sheets or incontinence pads in combination with friction reducing devices such as slide boards slippery sheets or plastic bags get a good handhold by rolling up draw sheets or incontinence pads kneel on the bed or gurney to avoid extended reaches and bending your back have team members on both sides of the beds count down and lift at the same time use a smooth coordinated push-pull motion do not reach across the person you are moving repositioning is done in a similar method but the patient remains on the same bed here are a few guidelines for moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair lower the bed to its lowest position position the wheelchair at the head of the bed and lock the wheels use and attach a transfer belt when possible help the patient's set up on the edge of the bed by placing your hands under their neck and shoulders and under their knees bend your knees and spread your feet shoulder-width apart with both hands grasp the patient around the waist or grasp the transfer belt brace your knees against the patient's knees to help the patient stand up and lock their knees using a gentle rocking motion lift the patient to a standing position the patient can help by pushing down on the bed with their arms bend your knees and move your feet to turn and lower the patient into the chair the patient can reach for the chair arms for support when moving a patient from a wheelchair to a bed adjust the bed to the patient's hip level position the wheelchair close to the bed and lock the wheels use and attach a transfer belt when possible bend your knees and wrap your arms around the patient's waist or grasp the transfer belt with both hands lift the patient to a standing position turn your feet and sit the patient on the edge of the bed help the patient lay down use a draw sheet to comfortably position the patient when assisting falling patients never try to catch the patient or prevent the fall try to slow the fall by lowering the patient to the floor protect the patient's head as much as possible as you help them gently to the floor get help to lift the patient from the floor using proper lifting and handling techniques will help protect your back and ensure the safety of the patients good posture is important for a healthy back when sitting or standing for long periods of time posture can affect the back either positively or negatively it is important to learn the correct way to sit and stand how to support the back while sitting or standing and exercises to perform while sitting and standing when sitting keep your knees at a 90 degree angle and your feet flat on the floor slide back in the chair and sit up straight putting a pillow behind the lower back will help provide support exercise while sitting by tightening the stomach and buttock muscles and holding for five to ten seconds occasionally get up and walk around if you'll be sitting for long periods of time when standing make sure not to slouch with your back bend keep your back straight shifting your weight from leg to leg every few seconds hold your shoulders slightly back and keep your chin abdomen and buttocks tucked in standing puts less stress on the back than sitting shift positions frequently raise one foot on a stool or step when standing stationary for a long period of time preventing back injuries requires proper lifting good posture exercise and proper diet the bank deteriorates with age and it is important to do everything possible to keep the back healthy performing certain exercises will strengthen the back stomach muscles and leg muscles increasing the chances of maintaining a healthy back for many years here are three things you can do to help your back choose where comfortable and supportive shoes weight maintaining your proper weight will reduce stress on your back and exercise exercising on a daily basis will strengthen your back and increase flexibility shoulder shrugs are one way to stretch the upper back stand or sit with your arms at your sides shrug your shoulders up toward the ears and hold for 10 seconds and then relax the pelvic tilt is done by lying on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor tighten your stomach and buttock muscles to press your lower back against the floor the hip flexor the hip flexor stretch is done by lying on your back with one leg straight and the other bent at the knee slowly bring the bent knee up to the chest and press your back firmly on the floor hold for 5 seconds bring your bent knee back down and then switch legs in conclusion when lifting plan ahead before lifting communicate with others and use proper techniques and equipment bend at your knees when lifting or setting the object down keep your feet shoulder-width apart lift the object close to the body tighten your abdominal muscles lift with your legs maintain good back posture when lifting sitting or standing and stretching before work or exercise will reduce strain on your back


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