Good ergonomics cares for the carers
The pandemic has consumed so much of our health focus over the last few years, there hasn’t been time for much else. Yet national statistics show that healthcare and social assistance workers have the highest incidence of musculoskeletal disorders. Good ergonomic practices are a vital step in preventing such disorders. Medical fit-out company Evoke Projects examines the impact of ergonomics with seven tips for best practice in your healthcare design.
Majority of Workers Compensation claims in healthcare due to musculoskeletal injury
A research report, conducted by Deloitte Access Economics and commissioned by Safe Work Australia, looked at work-related injuries and illnesses between 2008 and 2018. It found that each year there was, on average, 623,663 injuries/illnesses. Without these, the report stated that Australia’s economy would grow by $28.6 billion each year, 185,500 additional full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs would be created and workers across all occupations and skill levels would benefit from an average wage rise of 1.3 per cent annually.1
Although it is difficult to attribute a percentage of injuries directly to poor ergonomics, in 2019-20, 58% of serious workers’ compensation claims were for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).2 Looking specifically at healthcare, Monash University reported that nearly 62% of Workers Compensation claims in the healthcare and social assistance industry were for musculoskeletal injuries.3 Another study found that as many as 83% of all injuries sustained in the healthcare sector were as a result of musculoskeletal factors.4
Risk factors include lifting and moving patients or medical equipment, reaching for supplies and long periods of sedentary work for administration staff. Healthcare practices that care for staff well-being with good ergonomics will also see benefits of retaining medical talent, improved concentration, efficiency and better patient care.
Seven tips for best practice ergonomics in your healthcare design
- Ergonomics is about designing work spaces appropriately for people, tasks and processes. It is best if this starts at the earliest opportunity: the initial healthcare fit-out and design. Wider doors and hallways will usually be necessary in a medical fit-out to accommodate wheelchairs, beds and equipment. Consider lighting and ventilation in your ergonomic planning.
- To improve an established healthcare design, conduct an audit of the medical practice needs, identifying hazards and inviting staff feedback.
- If equipment needs to be moved to different rooms, take extra care around the flooring choice. Even better, invest in ergonomically designed medical equipment.
- Height adjustable workstations are ideal for healthcare fit-outs. They enable flexibility for different tasks and preferences; think about the different needs for a quick record update versus detailed research or reports. Smart tablets or portable computers on wheels enable clinicians to easily show scans to patients or update records while in a patient’s room. Ergonomic chairs will be needed for clinicians and administrators.
- Ergonomic aids such as geriatric chairs, phlebotomy chairs, patient transfer chairs, sliding boards and hoists should be readily available. Cleaning trolleys and ergonomic cleaning tools can reduce contamination as well as making cleaning more efficient.
- Worksafe Queensland has a dedicated video about good workplace design in the healthcare sector:
- There are various government and private training courses about ergonomics available for healthcare staff. For example, safe patient handling:
Patient handling is the most important factor in healthcare. Done correctly, not only does it reduce staff injury, it also improves patient care.
Your business and your patients depend on your staff. With musculoskeletal injuries being the highest cause of Workers Compensation claims, along with other minor injuries causing absenteeism, good ergonomics is vital for your business.
For more ergonomic medical design and healthcare fit-out ideas, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.