Injury rates before and after the implementation of a safe resident handling program in the long-term care sector

Manual resident handling (RH) tasks increase risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) for clinical staff in nursing homes. To reduce the incidence and cost of MSDs, a large healthcare corporation instituted a Safe Resident Handling Program (SRHP) comprising purchase of mechanical lifting equipment, worker training, and detailed usage/maintenance protocols. The program was initially administered by a third-party company; after three years, program responsibility shifted to individual centers.
Workers' compensation claim rates were compared before and after SRHP implementation. Claims and FTEs were classified as “pre-SRHP,” “first post period” (up to 3 years post-SRHP), or “second post period” (4–6 years post-SRHP), based on claim date relative to implementation date for each center.
Complete data were available for 136 nursing homes with average annual employment of 18,571 full-time equivalents. Over the 8-year period, 22,445 claims were recorded. At each time period, the majority of RH claims affected the back (36% low, 15% other) and upper extremity (26%). Workers' compensation claims were reduced by 11% during the first post period and 14% during the second post period. RH-related claims were reduced by 32% and 38%, respectively. After six years, the rate for all claims had decreased in 72% of centers, and RH claim rates decreased in 82%. Relative risk for post-/pre-SRHP injury rates increased for centers with less developed wellness programs, unionized centers, and centers with higher LPN turnover pre-SRHP. Injury reduction among these nursing home workers is plausibly attributable to the introduction of mechanical lifting equipment within the context of this multi-faceted SRHP.

Source: Kurowski, A., Gore, R., Roberts, Y., Kincaid, K. R., & Punnett, L. (2017). Safety Science, 92, 217-224.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2016.10.012

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