Patient lift failure is a global problem. Hazard alerts have been issued by several jurisdictions including: Health Canada, Work Safe British Columbia, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Mechanical lifting devices have been used by hospitals, long-term care facilities and even private homes to transfer or reposition their clients who have mobility issues. Since the need to lift clients poses an injury risk to the attendant (and at times client), and the task cannot be eliminated, mechanical lifts were created as an engineering solution. While the patient lifts provide a sloution to the ergonomic issue of manually lifting patients they introduce new workplace hazards.
Mechanical lifting systems are a documented source of injuries to both clients and attendant. The documented injuries are related to malfunction, failure or misuse of patient lifts in Canada.
The attached Hazard Alert provides information on the types of hazards and some of the preventive measures and legal requirements under the Occupational Safety General Regulations.
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Comment #1 (Posted by Sandra)
Home Support in Nova Scotia adopted "Mechanical Lifts in Home Support, A Unified Practice Standard" in May 2012. The CAN/CSA Z10535-03 Standard provides the reference point for our approach.
It is recognized that the mechanical lift devices belong to the client in the community and NOT to the agency providing the service. We communicate the requirements around the Standard to clients and educate our employees as to safe work practices. We monitor compliance to the Standard and adjust our care delivery accordingly.
Thank you for your comment and highlighting how you approach this issue. As you note while the lift device itself may the property of the client, a duty still rests on the employer placing the home care worker in a home/workplace to ensure compliance with the standard and ensure the lift has been properly installed/maintained etc. so as to not put workers at risk.
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