Reduction in injury rates in nursing personnel through introduction of mechanical lifts in the workplace

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Nov;44(5):451-7. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10294.


Background: Health care workers incur frequent injuries resulting from patient transfer and handling tasks. Few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of mechanical lifts in preventing injuries and time loss due to these injuries.

Methods: We examined injury and lost workday rates before and after the introduction of mechanical lifts in acute care hospitals and long-term care (LTC) facilities, and surveyed workers regarding lift use.

Results: The post-intervention period showed decreased rates of musculoskeletal injuries (RR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.68-1.00), lost workday injuries (RR = 0.56, 95% CI: 0.41-0.78), and total lost days due to injury (RR = 0.42). Larger reductions were seen in LTC facilities than in hospitals. Self-reported frequency of lift use by registered nurses and by nursing aides were higher in the LTC facilities than in acute care hospitals. Observed reductions in injury and lost day injury rates were greater on nursing units that reported greater use of the lifts.

Conclusions: Implementation of patient lifts can be effective in reducing occupational musculoskeletal injuries to nursing personnel in both LTC and acute care settings. Strategies to facilitate greater use of mechanical lifting devices should be explored, as further reductions in injuries may be possible with increased use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Lifting / adverse effects*
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Nurses*
  • Transportation of Patients / methods*
  • United States
  • United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • Workplace
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*