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What Is Ergonomics in Healthcare?

We all know about office ergonomics - walk around at least once an hour, don't stay seated all day, things like that. Have you ever considered how ergonomics in healthcare could help you?

It's no secret that working in the healthcare industry is one of the most difficult jobs out there. People employed in the healthcare sector face all kinds of challenges you might not find in other areas of work. The work is rewarding, but it can also be physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing.

Without proper OSHA healthcare training, it can be easy to injure yourself doing some of the more physical work expected. These injuries, if not careful, could lead to permanent disorders.

If you haven't thought about this, you've come to the right place. We'll fill you in on exactly how healthcare ergonomics can benefit you.

What Is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics can be defined as the scientific study of people at work. The goal of ergonomics is to prevent soft tissue injuries or the development of MSDs. These can be caused by sudden or sustained exposure to awkward posture, repetitive motion, vibration, and force.

To create a safe work environment, ergonomists and industrial hygienists recommend designing the requirements of a particular job to fit an individual's physical capabilities and limitations.

Ergonomics are best known for being used in offices. With office ergonomics, people are told to get up and walk around. They're told to do special exercises to keep their wrists from developing any special problems. Offices are commonly known as "the poster child" for ergonomics.

However, there's more to ergonomics than just office work. How often are you told to lift with your knees, or get help from another person? How often are you told to know your limits and not push past them?

At its heart, that's what ergonomics is all about - preventing injuries for everyone involved.

What Are MSDs?

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, are disorders that can be sustained at work. Work-related MSDs can be defined as “disorders or injuries of muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, joints, or spinal discs that are caused or aggravated by work activities.”

MSDs can develop over time or immediately due to an overload. This type of disorder is very common when working in the healthcare sector, especially for people who work with patients.

There are all types of precautions that should be taken when it comes to preventing an MSD. You can never be too careful.

There are a lot of people depending on healthcare workers. Patients need them to be mobile and get cared for. Their families need them healthy and uninjured.

Work-related MSDs are the most reported cause of missing time from work.  Learning proper ergonomics can help prevent you from developing an MSD. In every workplace, MSDs would decrease sharply with the use of proper ergonomics.

If you notice any MSD symptoms, it's important to report these right away. Early reporting can decrease the harm done to your body. It can also allow your employer to rework your duties so that they will be ergonomically sound.

Common Healthcare Industry Injuries

The two most common causes of injury in the healthcare industry are awkward postures and patient handling.

Everyday tasks for a healthcare worker can cause awkward posture like twisted or hyper-extended back positions. This increases the force on the spine and joints, leading to pain and fatigue.

Try and avoid awkward posture while working. This could mean making use of equipment like adjustable IV stands, or making sure space is clear to allow normal posture.

Patient handling exposes healthcare workers to muscle and joint tearing, joint and tendon inflammation, herniated discs, or pinched nerves. Minimize the manual lifting of patients where you can. Make use of proper lifting techniques, wheelchairs, and shower chairs.

Why Ergonomics in Healthcare Is Important

As stated before, when you work in healthcare your patients are counting on you to provide the best care possible. You can't do that when you're hurting. Being hurt can make you dangerous to your patients because you could botch a lift and injure them.

It's important to make use of ergonomic equipment. This could be anything from geriatric chairs to sliding boards to bedding modifications. Healthcare facilities that take advantage of these see a sharp decrease in workplace injuries.

OSHA requires employers to maintain workplaces safe for both employees and patients. In healthcare, this means using equipment to minimize the amount of manual patient lifting being done.

Hospital ergonomics are constantly being evaluated to look for improvement. Healthcare administrators update safety protocol regularly based on these evaluations. Administrators should make sure employees receive these updates and encourage feedback from employees.

Administrators should teach medical personnel how to recognize and report injuries early on. They should also encourage employees to maintain physical fitness as a preventative measure.

Using proper ergonomics is vital to healthcare. Patients depend on everyone in the healthcare industry - nurses or administrators - to remain healthy and use proper protocol.

Using ergonomics will benefit both you and your patient's comfort.

Contact Us

Now that you've heard all about the importance of ergonomics in healthcare, you may be wondering what comes next. Or you may have more in-depth questions that you need help with. Perhaps you're wondering what the best healthcare training course is for you.

If you have any of these questions, then it's time for you to reach out. Contact us here and we'll answer your questions to our best extent.



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