Safe Patient Handling Program Launched!

Above: Nurses work with the new lift equipment at a recent training.

The Safe Patient Handling Program, which was initiated by SEIU Local 1991 and jointly accomplished by labor and management, has finally come to fruition!

Lift equipment has been purchased and staff training has begun, marking a victory for our union. Implementation of a Safe Patient Handling Program was negotiated as part of the SEIU Local 1991 collective bargaining agreement and is recognized as a critical factor in promoting a healthy work environment.A total of 210 orthopedic, neurological/surgical and rehabilitative staff recently participated in a three-day training for Full Body Lift equipment. Staff’s response to training has been overwhelmingly positive, especially with the equipment’s ease of use.

Nurses have consistently been rated among occupations with the highest risk of work-related injuries, even ranking higher than construction workers, studies show. It’s also proven that certain myths put our profession at risk, such as relying on “proper body mechanics” to counteract the physical stress of patient handling. The cumulative weight lifted by an RN during an 8-hour shift is 1.8 tons!

Full Body Lift equipment education will continue over the next several months, followed by training on Stand-Assist equipment. Utilization of lift equipment is part of a comprehensive Safe Patient Handling Program. The program is an evidenced-based intervention designed to prevent staff injury while promoting safe movement and increased mobility of patients. According to cost-basis analyses, initial investments in lifting equipment and education can be recovered in 2 to 3 years.

Special thanks to Local 1991 Executive Board member Vicki Gonzalez, RN, who co-chaired the Safe Patient Handling and Movement committee along with management’s Chief Physical Therapist Lynn Neifeld. Also thanks to all committee members who have worked diligently to ensure this collaborative union-management team became a reality, including member leader Elisa Priscal, PT and SEIU’s Director of Professional Practice Kathryn Ewers, RN.

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