This article will discuss the reasons why we use mobile hoists from the basic biomechanical, through to the functional and up to the maintenance of an individual’s dignity.
The mobile hoists we all know and use today stem from a simple design invented by Lord Armstrong in 1845. This invention came out of necessity; an industrial revolution was taking place in the UK with the ever-increasing demands on the coal and steel industries and manufacturing called on a need for machinery to meet the demands of the tools to lift heavier and heavier loads. This simple design often referred to as a block and tackle style hoist, which is still used to help disabled persons in their own homes, in hospitals and residential care facilities today. However why do we use mobile hoists at all?
The most basic advantage that using a mobile hoist gives us is that of simple biomechanics. Simply put they impact on the amount of effort required to move a person by the human body and the forces exerted on the body. For example if you have a person that weighs 170 pounds and that individual needs to be moved from their bed onto a care device such as a commode you do not need an equal amount of force to match the 170 pounds but considerably more in order for you to move that person.
That is one reason we have hoists such as the hydraulic hoists invented by lord Armstrong. When lifting a person, the forces required to move them may not move in a straight up or down direction, or side to side, there could be a combination of the both or even rotation forces, all of which will have an impact on a handler’s muscular and skeletal frame.
Hoisting a person (animate object) that is dependent on us for their care is not like hoisting a crate of oranges (inanimate object) for example. If we hurt ourselves when lifting a box of oranges and we drop the oranges, we may end up with an injury and a broken box of oranges. The same cannot be said if we were lifting another person and we sustained an injury leading to us dropping the person. This could have catastrophic effects on the individual being dropped and is not a sustainable way to manage a dependent person’s care.
Mobile hoists allow us to apply the required amount of force to lift a dependent person with the mechanical forces going through the structure of the hoist and therefore reducing the biomechanical forces exerted on the carer. Therefore, we reduce the risk of injury to both the dependent person and the carer and increase the sustainability of the dependent person’s care.
Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD)
If we consider the previous section of this article, we start to understand how biomechanical forces work and how mobile hoists can help keep care givers safe. Mobile hoists in part can help to reduce the risk of WMSDs. They do so by offsetting the biomechanical forces at play when we move a dependent person. The use of mobile hoists in institutional settings such as hospitals will be as a result of risk assessment, where moving a person is deemed hazardous. This is in line withThe OSH Act (197) which aims to ensure safe working conditions for men and women, which includes Hazardous identification and risk assessment.
To ignore these risks as we’re starting to understand can have a significant effect on the workforce. Many health professionals experience WMSDs particularly lower back by moving or lifting their patients (Yasobant S, 2014). This can also cause days off work whilst staff members recuperate from their injuries (Amaro J et al, 2018). So, employers both legally, and from an employee health standpoint need to have mobile hoists available if staff wellbeing and patient care dictate. As such Mobile hoists provide an easy access, easy to use hoisting solution for employees use.
None of us can probably fully imagine what it must feel like to be dependent on another person for our care, especially when it comes to the more personal elements of that care. To be moved efficiently with the patient experiencing as little discomfort as possible increases the options for more dignified personal care. For example, a mobile hoist may allow someone to access a toilet rather than wear pads to open their bowels. The result being the dependent persons privacy and dignity is better managed and has more options to care.
Although institutions such as care homes and hospitals may consider fixed hoists such a ceiling track initially preferable, it is testament to the flexibility of the mobile hoist that many institutions use them. The reason for this flexibility is the lack of need to be fixed to a ceiling or wall and can therefore be transported between rooms. One mobile hoist can service a whole floor, or hospital ward, or an individual’s home at the fraction of the setup, maintenance and running costs of fitting each room with a ceiling track hoist.
Therefore, the advantages of using mobile hoists are clear: Biomechanics; simply put, mobile hoists help us manage the forces that go through our body when moving objects, reducing the risk of injury to a patient and carer. Thus, we have a legislative need to risk assess and make the workplace safer and mobile hoists have a pivotal role to play.
The consequences of not risk assessing properly and not considering worker welfare can lead to WMSDs, days lost in work and a staff member’s life being affected negatively, for a short or long period. The provision and proper use of mobile hoists can reduce the risk of WMSDs in a work force and days lost due to WMSDs.
Patient dignity is also increased using mobile hoists, enabling patients to more easily access facilities such as toilets that they may be otherwise unable. Mobile hoists also have the advantage of being very flexible and cost effective to run.
João Amaro, João Magalhães , Margarida Leite,Beatriz Aguiar, Paula Ponte, Joana Barrocas, Pedro Norton (2018) Musculoskeletal injuries and absenteeism among healthcare professionals—ICD-10 characterization https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207837 PMID: 30550599
Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970) http://www.osha.gov
Yasobant S, Rajkumar P (2014) Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among health care professionals: A cross-sectional assessment of risk factors in a tertiary hospital, India. Indian Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 18 (2): 75-81 PMID: 25568602