Preventing nursing back injuries: Redesigning patient handling tasks

Document Type



The researchers identified nine patient handling tasks that place nursing staff at high risk for musculoskeletal injuries. An expert panel redesigned these tasks using new patient handling technologies and work practice controls. The key objective was to evaluate the biomechanical benefit of the redesigned tasks. Back and shoulder muscle activity, forces on the lumbar spine, shoulder joint moments, and perceived comfort were evaluated in a laboratory setting. Using objective and subjective data, 63 participants who performed the redesigned tasks were compared with 71 participants who used standard procedures. Objective data revealed significant improvement in five of the redesigned tasks, while staff subjectively rated four of the redesigned tasks as significantly improved. Nursing tasks can be redesigned to improve caregiver and patient safety using new patient handling technologies and work practice controls. Further study is needed to redesign other high risk tasks to promote safer work environments.


Back – Wounds and injuries; Backache; Nurses – Wounds and injuries; Overuse injuries; Patients – Positioning; Transport of sick and wounded


Nursing Administration | Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing | Other Nursing | Public Health and Community Nursing


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