It’s well accepted that ergonomics has an injury-preventing reputation. But what happens when an existing organization like Tampa General Hospital mixes a strong ergonomics program into its business plan? The end result is an improved bottom line.
Tampa General Hospital is just one example of this desirable by-product of ergonomics — an all-around improved business environment. It started at Tampa General a few years ago when the hospital noticed that employee injuries were up. According to Manon Labreche, R.P.T, Injury Prevention Coordinator for the hospital, that was when they decided to implement an injury prevention program incorporating everything from patient care areas to workstation evaluations and job site assessments.
“Patient care areas were our biggest concern as this is where our most severe injuries and most costly injuries occurred,” said Labreche. Lifting equipment, mechanical assist devices that place the burden on the machine rather than the nurse, wasn’t a viable option for the hospital; there were training, space, compliance and accessibility issues for the 800 bed facility. So Labreche, brought in to oversee the injury-prevention program, decided after some trial and error and research, that lift teams should be tried. “We felt that after extensive feedback, both positive and negative, that this was a good way for us to prevent injuries,” said Labreche.
“After a year of implementation, we have reduced our RN injuries by 62 percent hospital-wide and we’ve had great success with our lift team. Many [of the hospital’s] nurses state that they don’t know what they ever did without [lift teams],” said Labreche. “They assist with all types of transfers, to stretcher, bed-side commode, recliners and also assist with repositioning of our bariatric patients. This has also been a great recruitment and retaining tool for our RNs, as we have a significant RN shortage.”
It’s a great example of how a voluntary approach to ergonomics works. Tampa General was able to develop their own program, one that worked for them in more ways than just injury prevention.