Manual Handling Hazards in Aged Care: How to Address Them?

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Manual handling in aged care refers to a range of physical tasks that are essential in the industry. These tasks require individuals to exert force and are commonly encountered in various professions, emphasising the importance of proper training and techniques to ensure safety and prevent injuries.

Manual handling hazards are prevalent in aged care facilities, posing risks to both residents and workers. These hazards involve any activities that require carrying, holding, lifting, lowering, moving, pulling, pushing, and restraining objects or individuals. In the context of aged care, manual handling hazards can encompass various tasks, from assisting residents with daily activities to transporting them from one place to another.

The NSW government’s assessment tool is crafted to pinpoint workplace hazards swiftly posing harm to employees. Its periodic use aids in evaluating WHS risks and determining necessary safety enhancements for workers and clients.

aged care settings

 

Common Manual Handling Hazards in Aged Care Facilities

Aged care workers are susceptible to various injuries and health issues due to manual handling hazards. The most common among these are musculoskeletal injuries, which can result from repetitive movements, awkward postures, or lifting heavy loads. Additionally, occupational health and safety concerns arise from the potential for accidents and injuries in the workplace.

Strains and sprains:

Imagine the constant tug of war with gravity. Lifting, transferring, and assisting residents – tasks seemingly routine – become battlegrounds for muscles, ligaments, and tendons, particularly in the back, shoulders, and knees. Every awkward bend, every twist to adjust a sheet, every heave to reposition a resident becomes a potential blow, leading to strains, sprains, and the dull ache that lingers long after.

Hernias:

Improper lifting techniques are like playing a dangerous game with internal organs. The pressure builds, pushing tissues through weakened muscle walls, resulting in hernias – painful protrusions that can cause discomfort and require medical intervention. Picture the grimace on a caregiver’s face as they struggle to lift a resident without proper support, unknowingly inviting this unwelcome guest.

Back injuries:

The spine, our body’s central pillar, becomes a vulnerable target in this environment. Awkward postures, heavy lifting, and repetitive movements become its risk factor, leading to a spectrum of back injuries. Imagine the sharp pang, the debilitating pain that radiates down the legs, the constant reminder of the toll taken on this crucial structure.

Foot injuries:

Uneven floors transform into treacherous landscapes, loose rugs become hidden tripwires, and improper footwear adds fuel to the fire. Slips, trips, and falls become all too common occurrences, leading to sprains, fractures, and cuts that can leave caregivers sidelined and residents vulnerable. Picture the stumble, the yelp of pain, and the realisation that a seemingly innocuous step has turned into a painful ordeal.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs):

The body remembers. Each strain, sprain, and injury leaves its mark, accumulating over time into chronic MSDs. Imagine the persistent pain, the stiffness that limits movement, and the constant reminder of the cumulative effects of these unaddressed risks. Picture a caregiver struggling to perform daily tasks due to chronic shoulder pain.

Shoulder and neck injuries: 

Repetitive movements and awkward postures can strain shoulder and neck muscles, leading to pain and limited movement. Picture the constant reaching, pushing, and pulling, each movement putting a strain on these muscle groups.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: 

Repetitive wrist movements, such as those involved in using hoists or slings, can compress the median nerve, causing pain and numbness in the hands and fingers. Imagine the constant gripping and maneuvering, leading to tingling, numbness, and weakness in the hands.

In addition to physical injuries, this section will delve into other health concerns associated with manual handling hazards in aged care settings.

Chronic pain:

The constant ache, the limitations in movement, and the ever-present reminder of injury take a toll on mental well-being. Imagine the frustration, the fear of further injury, and the impact on a caregiver’s quality of life.

Cuts and lacerations:

Residents with cognitive impairments or limited mobility may, in their confusion or fear, inadvertently injure caregivers during transfers or care activities. Imagine the unexpected movement, the sharp edge of a bedside table, and the sudden rush of blood and worry.

Psychological impact:

The constant physical demands, the fear of injury, and the emotional strain of caring for vulnerable individuals can contribute to stress, anxiety, and even burnout among caregivers. Imagine the sleepless nights, constant worry, and feeling overwhelmed – a heavy burden that can impact both personal and professional life.

Contributing Factors to Manual Handling Hazards in Aged Care Facilities

Lifting heavy objects: 

This is a major risk factor, especially when combined with awkward postures and insufficient assistance. Imagine struggling to lift a resident without proper equipment or help, putting immense strain on the body.

Awkward postures:

Bending at the wrong angle, twisting to reach, and straining to maneuver – these seemingly innocuous movements, repeated throughout the day, become silent assassins, inflicting damage on the body.

Repetitive movements:

The constant push and pull of transfers, the endless cycle of repositioning residents, and the repetitive nature of these tasks wear down the body’s defences, making it susceptible to injury.

Lack of proper equipment:

Imagine trying to lift a heavy object with bare hands. It’s absurd, yet many caregivers lack access to essential equipment like hoists and slings, leaving them exposed to unnecessary risk.

Inadequate staffing:

When there are not enough caregivers, the pressure mounts. Rushing to complete tasks and lifting without assistance – these compromises create a breeding ground for injuries.

Whole body vibration: 

Pushing equipment, using vibratory tools, and standing on hard surfaces can contribute to musculoskeletal fatigue and discomfort. Imagine the constant vibration, the jarring movements, and the cumulative impact on the body.

When it comes to addressing manual handling hazards in aged care, Wise Choice IHC‘s specialised services encompass a range of tailored solutions aimed at promoting safety for you and your loved ones. Personal Care extends beyond basic grooming to include assistance with mobility, ensuring utmost comfort and dignity while minimising the risk of injury during transfers or movements.

Best strategies to address and decrease manual handling hazards in Aged Care

To effectively address and decrease the risk of manual handling injuries in the workplace, aged care providers should implement a comprehensive set of strategies aimed at promoting safety and minimising hazards.

Training and Education

Care staff must undergo rigorous training in manual handling techniques, including the proper use of assistive devices. Regular education sessions ensure that employees are equipped with the necessary skills to provide care safely and effectively. Additionally, ongoing training programs empower staff to stay updated on the latest protocols and procedures.

Hazard Assessment and Risk Minimisation

Regular assessments of the work environment are essential to identify potential hazards and mitigate risks associated with manual handling duties. A proactive approach involves implementing policies and procedures that promote safe handling practices, providing appropriate equipment and assistive devices, and continuously reviewing and updating training programs to reflect best practices.

Provision of Adequate Lifting Equipment and Safety Gear

The aged care industry must prioritise the provision of adequate lifting equipment and safety gear to support safe manual handling practices. This includes ensuring that caregivers have access to ergonomic lifting aids and protective gear to minimise the risk of injury during patient transfers and movement.

manual handling equipment

Encouraging Teamwork and Open Communication

Creating a culture of teamwork and open communication is crucial in fostering a safe work environment. Encouraging staff to collaborate and communicate openly about manual handling challenges promotes a collective approach to problem-solving and risk management. By fostering a supportive workplace culture, employees feel empowered to raise concerns and seek assistance when needed.

Continuous Review and Improvement

Regular monitoring and evaluation of manual handling procedures are essential for identifying areas for improvement and enhancing workplace safety. Regular audits and feedback mechanisms enable aged care providers to refine their practices, address emerging risks, and prioritise the well-being of both staff and residents.

By understanding the common hazards, implementing effective strategies, and prioritising occupational health and safety, aged care sectors can create a safer and healthier environment for everyone involved. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you in maintaining a safe and fulfilling lifestyle.

Manual Handling Techniques with Wise Choice!

When it comes to providing exceptional care for you and your loved ones, we understand the importance of mastering manual handling techniques. Our Allied Health professionals work closely with clients, devising personalised therapies to enhance mobility and reduce musculoskeletal injuries associated with hazardous manual tasks.

Additionally, our Nursing service provides expert assistance in managing medical needs, including safe handling practices during medication administration. We collaborate with healthcare providers to ensure optimal care. Choose our all-around approach to tackle manual handling hazards effectively in aged care.

Discover the power of safe and effective manual handling hazard techniques with us. Take the first step towards safer care and improved well-being. Contact us today for any assistance.

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