New Safety Initiative From the American Nurses Association

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New Safety Initiative From the American Nurses Association

It's time to regulate workplace hazards

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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A new safety initiative aimed at protecting the nursing workforce from injuries related to lifting, repositioning and moving patients was recently announced by the American Nurses Association.

The Handle with Care Recognition Program requires facilities to have an acceptable program in place for at least three years and to meet assessment, planning, policy and training criteria. Trained reviewers will make on-site visits and report and make recommendations for a review panel. The term of recognition will be three years. Several elements make up the program:

• A facility-based co-coordinator and multidisciplinary compliance committee
• Ongoing assessments, both hazard and walk-through
• Hands-on personnel involvement in equipment selection
• Education and training for all personnel
• Formal policies and procedures and program evaluation
There is no doubt people are getting heavier. Even airlines are adjusting to heavier weight loads. Since the average patient weighs 170 pounds (that means many weigh much more), over the course of a nursing career there are many opportunities for back, neck and shoulder injuries. Studies show that these injuries contribute to nurses leaving the bedside and, not infrequently, the profession.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Veterans Administration and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality all report that decreases in workers’ compensation payments will offset the initial investment in equipment and training within four years.  The quality of patient care should also improve. After all, patients suffer injuries also during faulty transfers and turns.

Elizabeth Hanink RN, BSN, PHN is a freelance writer with extensive hospital and community-based nursing experience.

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