Friday, September 7, 2012

Safe Use of Mechanical Lifting System

Research shows that mechanical lifting systems used in hospitals, care facilities and private homes have been the source of injury, and even death, to clients and attendants, according to a hazard alert from Nova Scotia. These incidents are mainly related to the malfunction, failure or misuse of patient lifts, and new hazards include falling suspended parts, dropped loads, equipment failure, structural failure and electric shocks. Body strain is also a risk if the hoist should fail and an attendant tries to catch a falling client. The following tips from the FDA and Nova Scotia offer practical guidance to help prevent injuries to attendants using patient lifts.
  • Be trained on and understand how to operate the lift.
  • Fasten all clips, latches and hanger bars securely during operation.
  • Keep the base (legs) of the patient lift in the maximum open position and position the lift to provide stability.
  • Ensure the patient's arms are inside the sling straps.
  • Lock the wheels on any device that will receive the patient such as a wheelchair, stretcher, bed or chair.
  • Ensure that the weight limitations for the lift and sling are not exceeded.
  • Follow the instructions for washing and maintaining the sling.
  • Follow a maintenance safety inspection checklist to detect worn or damaged parts that need immediate replacement.
The hazard alert adds that because slings are a key part of the lifting system, it’s essential to use the correct sling for the specific hoist. The safe working load must be clearly marked on both the lift and the sling. Inspect the sling fabric and straps to make sure they are not frayed or stressed at the seams, and if there are signs of wear, do not use it. The manufacturer's specifications will likely provide a frequency for periodic inspections and pre-use inspections. These inspections help to identify any visible signs of damage to equipment that may lead to a failure. For more information, click here.