(Salem) - Two health care facilities in Oregon will be the first to
benefit from an alliance formed to reduce the number of health care workers
injured due to patient handling.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services' Occupational Safety
and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) and the Oregon Coalition for Healthcare
Ergonomics (OCHE) have formed an alliance to share best practices about safe
patient handling throughout Oregon's health care community. The organizations
plan to provide expertise and information to health care facilities about
the benefits of safe patient handling programs and develop curriculum about
safe patient handling techniques and the use of patient lifting equipment.
"Health care workers face unique hazards as part of their daily routine,"
said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator. "The good news is that
there are proven ways to reduce injuries, such as using patient lifting equipment."
A significant part of the alliance is Oregon OSHA offering technical assistance
to develop model safe patient handling facilities that can be applied statewide.
This project will include development of materials to assist long-term and
rural acute-care facilities in Oregon and across the U.S. in making the transition,
including creation of a step-by-step safe patient handling program development
guide, worker training materials, and a process for acquiring funding assistance
to purchase resident handling equipment.
Two sites have been selected to develop model programs for protecting health
- Dallas Retirement Village was selected to pilot development of the model
for long-term care facilities. As the model facility, Dallas Retirement
Village help develop a sustainable safe patient handling program for long-term
care. The program will include caregiver and management involvement in identifying
resident handling hazards, making decisions about appropriate solutions,
developing solutions, and evaluating the effect of the program for improving
- Good Shepherd Medical Center in Hermiston was selected to pilot safe lift
programs for rural acute-care hospitals. Hospital employees and management
will collaborate to develop safe patient handling guidelines for rural hospitals.
The project benefits from the generous support of Oregon Nurses Association
and the Labor Education and Research Center, University of Oregon
"Our goal is for Dallas Retirement Village and Good Shepherd Hermiston
to become the first of many 'Facilities of Choice' in Oregon where patients
and residents receive the safest care possible and caregivers work in the
safest environment possible," said Lynda Enos, RN, chair of OCHE. "The
pilot project was also offered to rural critical access hospitals in Oregon
since they experience high numbers of staff injuries while also trying to
recruit and retain adequate staff levels."
The ultimate goal of the alliance is to increase the use of patient lifting
devices and lower the rate of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in Oregon's
health care industry. MSDs are injuries and disorders to muscles, nerves,
tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs, such as sprains,
strains and tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, hernias, pain, and other musculoskeletal
diseases. MSDs are caused by overexertion, repetitive motion, or bodily reactions
due to bending, reaching, or twisting.
"It has been established that there is no safe way to manually lift
or handle residents," said Enos. "Nurses and nursing assistants
are frequently called upon to lift, transfer, and reposition dependent and
semi-dependent residents and patients in most health care facilities. These
tasks place them at high risk for sprains, strains, and other musculoskeletal
Oregon OSHA pursued the alliance with OCHE because injuries in health care
are a growing problem both in Oregon and nationwide. According to a recent
report released by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, while
workers' compensation claims in other industries are declining, health care
claims have remained steady. In fact, claims in the health care industry represented
9 percent of all claims in Oregon in 2005, an increase from 7.3 percent in
The report found that MSDs account for more than half of workplace injuries
in health care. Other findings include:
- The majority of injuries in 2005 occurred in hospitals (42 percent), nursing
facilities (20.7 percent), and residential care facilities (19.1 percent).
- Nursing aides are the most commonly injured employees in health care.
- Sprains and strains are the most common type of injury, and the back is
the most common body part injured in health care.
- More than one-third of the workplace injuries in Oregon resulting from assaults
or violent acts in 2005 occurred in the health care industry.
Although Oregon OSHA has a long history of cooperative efforts with employers,
labor, and professional groups, Oregon OSHA's formal agreement with OCHE is
the first signed under Oregon OSHA's Alliance Program. The program is designed
to improve cooperation between Oregon OSHA and employers, associations, educational
institutions, and other government agencies.
The Oregon Coalition for Healthcare Ergonomics is a partnership that includes
participation from the Association of Occupational Health Professionals in
Healthcare (Oregon Chapter), Liberty Northwest Insurance, Medical Protective
Insurance, Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, Oregon Federation
of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017, Oregon Healthcare Association,
Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon OSHA, SAIF Corporation, and the University
of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center.
Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer & Business Services,
enforces the states workplace safety and health rules and works to improve
workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go
The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregons largest business
regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov.