In Safe Patient Handling, Culture May Matter as Much as Equipment

Grand Haven, MI, June 19, 2009 --( Healthcare workers often risk their own health and safety in handling patients, even when appropriate mechanical lifts are available. This risky behavior may be due largely to lack of understanding, according to a recent study by Atlas Ergonomics.

In a survey of more than 2400 employees in a healthcare facility, one third of respondents stated that lifting 100 pounds from the floor was safe, and 11% stated that lifting 200 pounds was safe­loads that are widely known to be unsafe in industrial environments.

Among respondents, 99% of whom had patient handling duties, fewer than half understood or complied with the institution's patient handling policy. Only 69% felt it was up to them to implement a safe handling program. Yet 91% believed that safe patient handling was important.

"Low-back pain in nursing personnel has been identified as a major reason why nurses leave their profession. Injury rates among healthcare workers are higher than those of material handlers or truck drivers." says Drew Bossen, Vice President and founder of Atlas Ergonomics. "In an era of nursing shortages, the self-imposed risk shown in our research is especially alarming."

In the Atlas study, standard measures such as injury rates, discomfort, and patient handling activity levels were collected to determine risk in the facility. Measures of knowledge and compliance with program policies and procedures were assessed through employee surveys.

Trends in the data provide valuable insight into reducing ergonomics risk for a healthcare environment, according to Bossen. "Our research shows that employee knowledge and commitment must be improved with training and education to achieve a solid shift towards a safe patient handling culture."

Study results are now available in a white paper titled "Safe Patient Handling Program: Addressing Knowledge and Culture to Achieve Success." Recommendations and conclusions in the report are designed to help anyone addressing safe patient handling concerns in a healthcare environment. A free copy of the paper is available from Atlas at

About Atlas Ergonomics, LLC
Atlas Ergonomics, LLC is a leading ergonomic service and technology provider, helping customers reduce the spiraling costs of work related injuries within industrial, office, commercial transportation, public transit, and healthcare environments. Atlas guides clients to financially evaluate and define the appropriate strategy, and offers services that are uniquely simple, measurable, and cost effective. Atlas Ergonomics provides turnkey support through a nationwide network of providers or can assist corporate resources with the necessary training and technology. Atlas Ergonomics is located in Grand Haven, Michigan, and additional information can be found at

Atlas Ergonomics, LLC
James Landsman