If you were asked to choose the occupation that suffers the highest incidence of back injury, which would you choose? Patient lifting equipment specialist Healthtec explains how healthcare professionals are most at risk, and what can be done to mitigate against it.
If you thought courier drivers, builders, farm or construction workers due to the amount of bending and lifting they do, you'd be wrong. It may surprise you to learn that nursing is the riskiest occupation for back injuries.
"When you think about it, nurses, healthcare professionals and caregivers lift thousands of kilos every day as they care for their patients. In fact manual lifting and handling of patients is one of the most significant causes of back injury to nurses," says Healthtec General Manager, Matt Horne.
With more than 20 years' experience in designing and manufacturing treatment and examination tables, Healthtec is one of Australia's leading suppliers of electric patient lift equipment, as well as treatment, examination and specialty tables to both private practice and public health.
Horne says: "It costs the healthcare industry millions of dollars each year in medical care and compensation costs alone. And that's without taking into account lost time and productivity, staff attrition, patient injuries and the pain and financial hardship suffered by those who are injured.
"The reality is that there is no ergonomically safe way to manually lift patients. Handling a person is far more unpredictable than handling an object. Patients are hard to grip and need to be treated with dignity, respect and consideration for their capabilities and safety.
"But the biggest factor is that adult patients are heavy and usually much heavier than the load nurses and healthcare workers can handle without risk of harm."
According to Healthtec, there's no need for nurses and healthcare workers to suffer chronic back pain and debilitating back injuries when using appropriate patient lift equipment has proven successful at reducing injuries to both healthcare professionals and patients.
"Healthtec's philosophy is about making healthcare safer for you and your patients," says Horne.
Horne says Healthtec's products are designed and manufactured to ensure maximum functionality and safety for healthcare professionals and improved comfort and movement for patients.
"Quality and innovation are critical to our product design. Take our Healthtec Tilt Tables. These are the only tilt tables available in Australia where the footplate goes directly to the floor when at full vertical tilt," he says.
"This means your patients can safely walk on and off without stepping up or down which reduces the need for patients to rest their weight on you for balance and stability. And with 3 models of tilt tables that can carry and tilt 200kg, 275kg and 350kg respectively, there's a Healthtec Tilt table for virtually every patient.
"Our high capacity tilt table is available with an in-built digital weighing system so you can easily and accurately weigh your patient. This product is proving a godsend for bariatric care and fast becoming an essential piece of patient lifting equipment in many Australian hospitals."
Neurological Therapy Tables
There are many brands of bobath tables in Australia. However, the Healthtec range of bobath tables has some subtle differences that are proving indispensable.
"Our Ultimate Neurological Therapy Table has a lifting capacity of 280kg, a minimum height of 50cm, comes with hoist access and has no horizontal movement. This means you can easily slide patients onto the table from a seated position such as a wheelchair and provide treatment to heavy patients. In addition, you don't have to worry about the table being unstable for standing exercises," Horne says.
Electric Parallel Bars
Horne says: "In our walking and standing range, we saw an opportunity to make the working lives of health professionals and caregivers much easier. By putting a whole new slant on an old idea, we developed the world's first electric parallel bars and ballet rails.
"The electric function allows the practitioner to adjust the bars to fit the patient's height and width. If the patient is in a wheel chair, the bars can used to lift the patient into a standing position removing the potential for OSH issues and lifting injuries.
"Then, as the bars bolt straight to the floor, there are no obstacles for the patient to negotiate as they walk which means they can totally focus on their practitioner's instructions.
"We stand behind our products, which is why we were the first company in Australasia to introduce a five year warranty on all our products.
"When you buy Healthtec, you not only buy quality but also the assurance that if anything goes wrong, we'll make it right."