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An ergonomic evaluation of nursing assistants' job in a nursing home.
Garg A; Owen BD; Carlson B
Ergonomics 1992 Sep; 35(9):979-995
Factors responsible for back pain in nursing assistants were examined. Thirty eight nursing assistants who worked in a nursing home were observed and videotaped at work to identify tasks resulting in stress on the back. Patient data on ambulatory status and other physical and mental conditions were obtained and the assistants filled out a questionnaire about the amount of stress involved in performing various work tasks. Half of the nursing assistants reported having received medical care for work related low back pain in the last 3 years and one third lost one or more work days due to such an injury. The physical lifting of nonambulatory patients, such as from a toilet or bed to a wheelchair and back, was rated as the most stressful patient handling task followed by tasks involving pulling, pushing, or turning patients. Tasks requiring trunk flexion were rated as having light physical stress. Hydraulic lifts and gait belts available to assist patient lifting were infrequently used. Twelve out of a mean of 49 patient handling occurrences during a 4 hour shift involved lifting and carrying patients. Numerous postural stresses were identified in a variety of tasks performed by the nursing assistants, and many tasks required trunk flexion exceeding 30 degrees. Examination of biomechanical stresses demonstrated that the estimated compressive force on the fifth lumbar/first sacral intervertebral disc increased with an increase in patient weight during patient transfers. The authors conclude that nursing assistants are subjected to high levels of physical, biomechanical, and postural stresses.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Contract; Contract-200-86-2923; Ergonomics; Health-care-personnel; Biomechanics; Manual-lifting; Back-injuries; Employee-health; Physical-stress
Issue of Publication
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division