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Course 772 - Introduction to Safe Patient Handling

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Education and Training



Education and training are critical to the success of any safe patient handling program, especially training on proper patient handling, equipment use, and the benefits of safe patient handling. By educating all staff, including physicians, about the safe patient handling program, hospitals can reduce instances of a clinician asking or expecting colleagues to move patients in an unsafe way.

Training can range from onsite demonstrations of equipment use and maintenance to broader safe patient handling education programs and national conferences.

Training Program Tips

Click on the button to see some ideas for a successful approach to safe patient handling education and training:

  • Make sure that relevant workers are trained on using mechanical lift equipment. Caregivers should feel comfortable using the equipment.
  • Require ongoing training. Programs tend to be less successful over time if they do not receive adequate attention. Including safe patient handling procedures and policies in annual competency sessions is one way to remind workers of the program's importance and promote equipment proficiency.
  • Consider mentors and coaches. In addition to monitoring new employees, nurse managers and others can serve as mentors and peer coaches in every unit, reminding their colleagues how and when to use safe patient handling procedures and equipment.
  • Train caregivers to check each patient's mobility every time. Every patient has unique characteristics and mobility capabilities. It is important to assess these regularly, and to communicate each patient's level of mobility and need for assistance to all relevant caregivers.
  • Engage patients and their families. Patients may not understand the need for mechanical equipment at first. You can engage them in safe handling by explaining to them and their families that it is for their safety as well as the workers' safety.

1. Why is it important to educate and train all staff, including physicians, about the safe patient handling program?

a. We need to comply with all OSHA rules about moving patients
b. Because it's hard to get physicians to attend the training
c. So employees will not be asked to move patients in an unsafe way
d. Some managers do not believe it is their job to move patients

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Updated 6/10/2021

Safety and Health Awareness Training

All employees need overview training on the following:

  • the organization's safety and health policy, goals, basic operations and functions of
  • the safety and health management system,
  • hazard recognition and avoidance techniques, and
  • emergency response procedures.

Employees should know and understand their roles and responsibilities under the system, and the means used to communicate safety- and health-related information in the workplace.

The frequency and timing of training will vary based on the size and nature of the organization. This training should also be provided to all permanent and temporary employees and contractors.

2. The frequency and timing of training will vary based on _____.

a. the size and nature of the organization
b. OSHA's inspection schedule
c. employer-contractor requirements
d. the goals and objectives of management

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Updated 6/10/2021

Job-Specific Training

In an effective safety and health management system, efforts are taken to define training needs for specific jobs and to ensure that these needs are met. Job-specific requirements can be satisfied through a combination of education, experience, and training. After training, employees should be observed as they work to ensure that the safe work practices and other required procedures are consistently carried out.

Regardless of the type or size of the workplace, the goal is to give employees the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) they need to implement the safety and health management system and perform their jobs safely. Employers should make sure to recognize the training needs of employees who have English as a second language, physical limitations, or other special needs, and adjust the training materials or delivery methods accordingly.

Education and training needs, training methods, and the content of training programs differ from workplace to workplace. Choices depend on the distinct features of an organization's safety and health management system, the type and complexity of the work performed, the type and extent of hazards in the workplace, and the characteristics of the employees themselves.

3. Regardless of the type or size of the workplace, the goal of safety training is to _____.

a. make sure employees have a good knowledge of training needs
b. ensure the employer has demonstrated appropriate due diligence
c. comply with all OSHA healthcare regulatory requirements
d. give employees the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform safely

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Updated 6/10/2021

Training in Specific Roles

Some employees have specific roles in the safety and health management system, such as:

  • inspecting the workplace for hazards
  • conducting safety audits
  • selecting and instituting hazard controls
  • investigating incidents

These employees must know how to carry out their responsibilities and follow any internal or external procedures. Their training should emphasize how their actions directly impact the effectiveness of the safety and health management system. For example, an employee who is designated to receive reports of hazards must know what to do with those reports and how to respond to them. In many cases, this employee would also need to know who should be assigned responsibility for instituting control measures.

As a safety and health management system evolves, a more formal process may be instituted for determining the training needs of employees responsible for developing, implementing, and maintaining the safety and health management system.

4. Specific employee safety training should emphasize _____.

a. principles of safety management
b. how their actions impact the safety management system
c. strict compliance with OSHA rules is mandatory
d. components of a safety culture

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Updated 6/10/2021

Training for Charge Nurses and Supervisors


Charge nurses and supervisors should reinforce the safety program of the facility, oversee reporting guidelines, and help ensure the implementation of resident and task specific ergonomic recommendations.

Charge nurses and supervisors are likely to receive reports of injuries, and are usually responsible for implementing the facilities work practice controls, they may need more detailed training than nursing assistants on:

  • methods for ensuring use of proper work practices
  • how to respond to injury reports
  • how to help other workers implement solutions

5. _____ need more detailed training on how to respond to injury reports.

a. Nursing assistants
b. Charge nurses
c. Doctors
d. Administrative staff

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Updated 6/10/2021

Training for Designated Program Managers

Staff members who are responsible for planning and managing ergonomic efforts need training so they can identify concerns and choose appropriate solutions. These staff members should receive information and training that will allow them to:

  • Identify potential problems related to physical activities in the workplace through the following:
    • observation
    • use of checklists
    • injury data and analysis
    • other analytical tools
  • Address problems by selecting proper equipment and work practices.
  • Help other workers implement solutions.
  • Evaluate the ergonomics efforts.

6. _____ help other workers implement solutions to problems.

a. Program managers
b. Nurse supervisors
c. Doctors
d. Charge nurses

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Updated 6/10/2021

Training for Hazard Identification Controls

Through training, employees should be made aware of and able to recognize the hazards they may encounter while at work. These include hazards specific to their job as well as more general workplace hazards.

Employees should also understand:

  • the measures that taken to control hazards,
  • why controls are important, and
  • why controls must remain in place.

For example, if employees are not made aware of the hazards of noise exposure (e.g., in a hospital laundry or on a heliport), it is unlikely that they will use a control (e.g., hearing protection).

7. When training hazard identification controls, all of the following topics are presented EXCEPT _____.

a. the measures taken to control hazards
b. why hazard controls are important
c. determination of inappropriate behaviors
d. why hazard controls must remain in place

Check your Work

Read the material in each section to find the correct answer to each quiz question. After answering all the questions, click on the "Check Quiz Answers" button to grade your quiz and see your score. You will receive a message if you forgot to answer one of the questions. After clicking the button, the questions you missed will be listed below. You can correct any missed questions and check your answers again.

Updated 6/10/2021

Success Stories

Saint Thomas
At Southern Ohio Medical Center, safe patient handling training fills a full day.

Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital: breaking down language barriers

Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, was challenged to ensure that its safety training would be understood by all its environmental services staff, who speak 17 different native languages. To address this challenge, they set up a buddy system that pairs bilingual associates with those who have some difficulties in English.

The system has worked well. "Previously, we had employees who would nod and say they understood, but we never really knew for sure," said Environmental Services Supervisor David Cope. "Now those same employees are asking questions through their buddies. We know they want to learn, and now they have the help they need."

Southern Ohio Medical Center: Oriented toward safety

Orientation for new employees at Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) in Portsmouth, Ohio, includes a half-day safety curriculum that covers the hospital’s safety culture, error prevention, ergonomics, safe patient handling, and employee health and wellness. Nurses’ orientation is a full week, and safe patient handling training fills a full day. Residents, too, receive training on these topics.

D-Day (Development Day) is an organization-wide, mandatory annual refresher training for all workers and is based on the hospital’s core values, of which safety is one. Workers take safety refreshers and are tested on their knowledge. SOMC also requires annual driver safety training for anyone who drives for the hospital.


Updated 6/10/2021


Final Exam

Updated 6/10/2021
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