Skip Navigation

Course 773 - Preventing MSDs in Healthcare

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

Problems and Solutions for Other Activities

manual lift

Some reports indicate a significant number of work-related MSDs in the healthcare facility occur in activities other than resident lifting. Here are some activities the caregiver may want to review:

  • bending to make a bed or feed a patient
  • lifting food trays above shoulder level or below knee level
  • collecting waste
  • pushing heavy carts
  • lifting and carrying when receiving and stocking supplies
  • bending and manually cranking an adjustable bed
  • removing laundry from washing machines and dryers

Granted, these tasks may not present problems in all circumstances. However, to reduce the likelihood of an employee injury while performing a task, employers should conduct a job hazard analysis (JHA). The JHA can uncover hazards and devise solutions to make the task safer in terms of duration, frequency, forceful exertions, repetitive motions, and awkward postures.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples of possible solutions for activities other than lifting and repositioning.

Solutions for Other Activities

Storage and Transfer of Food, Supplies, and Medications

manual lift

Description: Use of carts.

When to Use:When moving food trays, cleaning supplies, equipment, maintenance tools, and dispensing medications.

Points to Remember: Speeds process for accessing and storing items. Placement of items on the cart should keep the most frequently used and heavy items within easy reach between hip and shoulder height. Cart hands that are vertical, with some horizontal adjustability, will allow all employees to push at elbow height and shoulder widths. Heavy carts should have brakes.

Solutions for Other Activities

Mobile Medical Equipment

manual lift

Description: Work methods and tools to transport equipment.

When to Use:When transporting assistive devices and other equipment.

Points to Remember: Oxygen tanks: Use small cylinders with handles to reduce weight and allow for easier gripping. Secure oxygen tanks to transport device.

Medication pumps: Use stands on wheels.

Transporting equipment: Push equipment, rather than pull, when possible. Keep arms close to the body and push with whole body and not just arms. Remove unnecessary objects to minimize weight. Avoid obstacles that could cause abrupt stops. Place equipment on a rolling device if possible.

Solutions for Other Activities

manual lift

Handling Bags

Description: Equipment and practice for handling bags.

When to Use: When handling laundry, trash, and other bags.

Points to Remember: Reduces the risk of items being dropped, and speeds process for removing and disposing of items. Receptacles that hold bags of laundry or trash should have side openings that keep the bags within easy reach and allow employees to slide the bag off the cart without lifting. Provide handles to decrease the strain of handling. Chutes and dumpsters should be positioned to minimize lifting. Provide automatic opening or hardware to keep doors open to minimize twisting and awkward handling.

Solutions for Other Activities

manual lift

Reaching into Sink

Description: Tools used to modify a deep sink for cleaning small objects.

When to Use: Cleaning small objects in a deep sink.

Points to Remember: Place an object such as a plastic basin in the bottom of the sink to raise the work surface. An alternative is to use a smaller porous container to hold small objects for soaking, transfer to an adjacent countertop for aggressive cleaning, and then transfer back to the sink for final rinsing. Store inserts and containers in a convenient place to encourage consistent use.

Solutions for Other Activities

Loading or Unloading Laundry

manual lift

Description: Front-loading washers and dryers.

When to Use:When loading or unloading laundry from washers, dryers and other laundry equipment.

Points to Remember: Speeds process for retrieving and placing items, and minimizes wear-and-tear on linen. Washers with tumbling cycles separate clothes, making removal easier. For deep tubs, a rake with long or extendable handle can be used to pull linen closer to the door opening. Raise machines so opening is between hip and elbow height of the employees. If using top loading washers, use work practices that include handling small loads of laundry and bracing your body against the front of the machine while lifting.

manual lift

Solutions for Other Activities

Cleaning Rooms (Electrical)

Description: Work methods and tools to vacuum and buff floors.

When to Use: Vacuuming and buffing floors.

Points to Remember: Both vacuum cleaners and buffers should have lightweight construction, adjustable handles, triggers (buffer) long enough to accommodate at least the index and middle fingers, and easy to reach controls. Technique is important for both devices, including use of appropriate grips, avoiding tight grips, and for vacuuming, alternating grip.

Solutions for Other Activities

manual lift

Hand Tools

Description: Select and use properly designed tools.

When to Use: When selecting frequently used tools for the kitchen, housekeeping, laundry and maintenance areas.

Points to Remember:

  • The right tool for the job enhances safety, speeds the process, and reduces waste.
  • Handles should fit the grip size of the user. Do not use a fingers-only pinch grip.
  • Use bent-handled tools to avoid bending wrists.
  • Use appropriate tool weight.
  • Select tools that have minimal vibration or vibration damping devices.
  • Have a regular maintenance program for tools to keep blades sharp and edges and handles intact.

Solutions for Other Activities

manual lift

Linen Carts

Description: Spring loaded carts that automatically bring linen within easy reach.

When to Use: Moving or storing linen.

Points to Remember: Speeds process for handling linen, and reduces wear on linen due to excessive pulling. Select a spring tension that is appropriate for the weight of the load. Carts should have wheel locks and height-appropriate handles that can swing out of the way. Heavy carts should have brakes.



Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. In a sink, place a plastic basin in the bottom of the sink to raise the work surface.

2. Raise laundry machines so opening is between _____ and _____ of the employees.

3. Which process speeds up the process for handling linen?

4. Which process minimizes wear-and-tear on linen?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.