According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 46% of nursing workplace injuries involve tears, sprains and strains, usually from lifting, twisting and bending motions. If you have to lift patients and heavy objects at work, understanding safe lifting techniques can help you prevent these common incidents.
Review these strategies for safe lifting to protect your back as a health care worker.
Assess the situation
Understand your own capabilities when you have to lift or move a patient at work. Estimate the person’s weight and seek help if you cannot bear that amount of weight safely. Avoid moving a person who is combative or has a high risk for falls.
Practice proper movement techniques
When you prepare to lift something heavy, either with or without help, make sure to align your body properly to avoid injury. Try to keep your neck and head in a straight line with your spine. Bend at the knees rather than at the waist to protect your lower back while maintaining that alignment.
Hold the patient or object near your body as you move them. Doing so keeps you steady and prevents falls while engaging your arm muscles. Keep a stable stance with even weight distribution by keeping feet about shoulder-width apart.
Use available resources
Take advantage of mechanical lifts and other equipment if available at your facility. When repositioning a patient in bed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using a draw sheet.
Minnesota workers who experience an injury on duty can seek benefits for medical expenses and disability through the state workers’ compensation program.