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Legislations Passed to Help Prevent Hospital Worker Injuries Due to Lifting, Transfers

December 20, 2011

Governor Brown signed landmark Safe Patient Handling legislation (AB 1136) on Oct. 7 to help slow a staggering epidemic of workplace injuries among hospital workers while also improving patient care.

Due to excessive and unnecessary manual patient lifting and/or transfers, RNs and other healthcare workers experience some of the nation’s highest rates of disabling neck, back, and shoulder injuries.  For more than a decade, mechanical lifting and transfer devices have proven to be remarkably effective in reducing these injuries while reducing serious patient skin tears and patients being dropped.

“The SEIU nurses here in California have long recognized the need for safe patient handling legislation and this was the year to finally get that accomplished. Too many of our nurses and other healthcare workers have been injured on the job while moving or repositioning the patients in their care,”  says Ingela Dahlgren, RN, Executive Director, SEIU Nurse Alliance of California

Dahlgren said, "With this important legislation, not only will our patients be provided safer care, but hospitals will have the guidelines to better protect their employees and prevent career-ending injuries.”

The nation’s first Safe Patient Handling law requiring the purchase of safe patient handling equipment and training programs was passed in Washington State in 2006.  As a result of the implementation of this law, a January 2011 study found that neck, back, and shoulder injuries to hospital workers caused by manual patient handling have decreased by more than one third.

As nurses, many of us know first-hand how dangerous manual lifting and transfers can be. We know that it’s not always just nuisance pain that’s caused by moving patients. Sometimes it can be completely debilitating and lead to early death. That’s not acceptable.

That’s why our SEIU Nurse Alliance of California fought for so many years to get this legislation passed. A big thank you to all 121RN nurses who participate in our Nurse Alliance in California!

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