April 14, 2023 | Terry Smith

4 Tips To Avoid Porter Injury When Moving Hospital Beds And Stretchers

How do you manage bed and stretcher moving in a way that is time efficient and avoids MSIs for staff?

The average hospital bed or stretcher weighs in the region of 150kg. Add an average patient weight of 78kg, and this means that porters are pushing approximately 228kg when moving a bed or trolley around the hospital. When you consider the average hospital in the UK moves hospital beds hundreds of times per day, the obvious strain of this can cause MSIs amongst the Portering staff.

To combat this risk of MSIs, Portering staff will often be needed to double up when moving beds and stretchers around the hospital. This has a negative impact on Portering resources and time.

In this article, we will cover 4 tips you can implement in your hospital to reduce the risk of injury to Porters and Nursing staff when moving beds and stretchers.

1. Always carry out a risk assessment

One of the simplest ways to prevent MSK injuries and problems when carrying out any task involving manual handling is to thoroughly risk-assess the task to reduce the risk of injury to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

There are many tools out there to assess manual handling tasks, but for assessing the risks of moving equipment such as beds and stretchers, the ‘Risk Assessment of Pushing And Pulling’ (RAPP) tool from the HSE is one of the most relevant.  The RAPP tool is designed for safely assessing pushing and pulling operations and checking the effectiveness of any risk-reduction measures.

Risk assessments should also be regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.


2. Use safe and approved manual handling techniques

You should always use safe and approved techniques when carrying out any manual handling task.  Failure to do so could result in musculoskeletal injury that could otherwise be prevented.

Keep these basic manual handling techniques in mind when moving beds and stretchers:

  • Keep the heaviest side close to your body.
  • Point your feet in the direction you’re moving.
  • Move with your feet. Keep one foot ahead of the other to maintain balance.
  • Do not twist your back or lean to the sides where possible.
  • Keep your shoulders level and facing in the same direction as your hips.
  • Look ahead—not down at the load—as often as possible.
  • Only change grip during a rest stop.

If you feel you require more training on safe manual handling techniques, your hospital should be able to provide this.


3. Use powered bed and stretcher movers

Powered bed and stretcher movers attach to hospital beds and stretchers and are designed to reduce Musculoskeletal Injuries (MSIs) and improve efficiency when moving beds and stretchers around hospitals, by taking the weight and load off the person pushing the equipment.

The powered bed movers from Felgains attach to the bed frame and are compatible with most NHS beds and stretchers. They enable time savings and improved ergonomics for the Portering staff.


4. Exercise readily

Portering is a physically demanding role; you’re required to move equipment constantly through the hospital, through corridors, and up lifts. As such, Porters must exercise regularly to ensure they’re in the best physical shape to prevent injury.

Also, doing simple warm-up exercises before carrying out a manual handling task can help prevent strains and sprains and minimize overuse injuries that commonly occur during patient handling.



Related articles

Patient Stretchers vs Hospital Beds; What Is The Difference?

Ten Tips For Handling Bariatric Patients In Hospital



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Terry Smith

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