Pre and post evaluation of a participatory ergonomics approach to promote usage of patient lifting equipment

Date of Completion

January 2007


Health Sciences, Occupational Health and Safety|Health Sciences, Nursing|Psychology, Industrial




This field study, conducted at an acute care hospital, evaluated a participatory ergonomics (PE) intervention to implement a safe patient lifting program. Participatory ergonomics is a method that actively involves employees in developing and implementing ergonomic improvements for their workplace to increase acceptance and effectiveness of workplace changes (Imada, 2002). Although professional guidelines recommend employee participation as a component of safe patient lifting programs, PE is not consistently applied in practice and not yet well validated as an intervention in the research literature. The goal of the PE intervention in the present study was to encourage usage of patient lifting equipment in order to decrease the incidence, severity, and cost of injuries to nurses and aides. With management support, representative employees in teams provided program suggestions that were implemented including lifting equipment purchases, storage locations, and a patient mobility assessment process.^ Four primary sources of data were used to evaluate the intervention; PE process measures, objective usage frequency, employee surveys, and workers' compensation records. After assessing pre and post lifting equipment usage patterns via researcher observations, it was concluded that usage frequency increased after the intervention, as hypothesized. Additional post intervention measures of usage including employee interviews provided convergent support for this finding. As expected, results from a pre and post survey indicated improved employee perceptions of involvement in decisions about patient lifting work procedures, with an increase in perceived management support by employees. Employee support for safer patient lifting as well as co-worker support remained high on both the pre and post survey. Perceived lifting injury risk decreased and access to lifting equipment increased after the intervention, also supporting the hypotheses. Regarding workers' compensation data, lost time injury rates decreased by 25% and overall average injury costs per employee decreased by 75%. Overall, these initial results are positive and provide support for the feasibility and effectiveness of using a PE approach to implement a safe lifting program in a hospital setting. However, the limitations of a pre and post evaluation design without a control group needs to be considered before changes can be attributed to the PE intervention alone. ^