NCCI study examines safe lift programs in long-term care industry
Long-term care facilities have higher injury rates than other types of institutions in the already injury-prone health care field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency reports long-term care facilities had an injury rate of 8.4 per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 2009 -- more than twice the rate for all private industries.
The growth of the long-term care industry is expected to continue, with the increased aging of the population. National Council on Compensation Insurance teamed up with the University of Maryland School of Medicine to examine the impact of safe lifting programs on workers' comp costs at long-term care facilities.
Researchers surveyed the directors of nursing at more than 200 facilities from November 2007 to May 2008. The data was linked to NCCI statistics on facility injuries and workers' comp costs to test the association between the costs and safe lift programs.
All facilities included in the study had been using mechanical lifting devices for at least three years. The researchers developed a safe lift index to capture information on the policies, training, preferences, and barriers surrounding the use of powered mechanical lifts.
"Just purchasing and having the lifts available is not enough to ensure that they are used and used correctly," the researchers said. "Therefore, the survey conducted as part of this study also included questions to measure intangibles, such as training programs and attitudes toward using the mechanical lift equipment."
The study found that one of the most critical components for an effective safe lift program was a comprehensive set of policies and procedures. "These include having procedures specifying that powered mechanical lifts should be used for residents not able to move around on their own. Specifying the use of powered mechanical lifts in the residents' care plans is also important," the study said. "Training newly hired certified nursing assistants in the use of lifts and incorporating lift use in performance evaluations are other important factors."
The preferences of the directors of nursing was another factor contributing to the overall effectiveness of safe lift programs. "Things that correlate highly with this factor include whether two caregivers may lift a resident manually and if the director of nursing prefers the use of powered mechanical lifts when moving residents from bed to chair and vice versa."
The researchers concluded that an increased emphasis on safe lift programs at the facilities is associated with fewer workplace injuries and lower workers' comp costs. "The institution's commitment to effectively implementing a safe lift program appears to be the key to success," the report says.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum
April 7, 2011
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