For more than 5 years, nurses and healthcare workers have had the second highest injury and severity rates among listed professions in the U.S. (BLS, 2005). Consequently, many nurses may consider alternate careers, decreasing the average career life span of practicing nurses during this period. One reason for the short career span of nurses may be the high incidence of severe injuries, especially to the lower back. The latest BLS (2005) data note that in 2003 42% of all nursing injuries were back related. Some experts estimate that most of the injuries were attributed to patient transfer tasks (Evanoff, Wolfe, Aton, et al., 2003; Nelson, Matz, Chen, et al., 2006).
For the past 20 years, much of the back-injury related research has focused on techniques and methods to reduce lower back injury. In the past 10 years, devices have been developed for patient handling, a primary contributor to lower back injury (Marras, 2005; Nelson, et al., 2006).
A review of literature found notable studies in modeling nurses’ perceptions of on-the-job influences (Hignett & Richardson, 1995); analysis of mechanical devices such as slings (Elford, Straker & Strauss, 2000); long-term ergonomic program evaluation (Owen, Keene & Olson, 2002); and biomechanical analysis ofmanual handling techniques (Schibye, Hansen, Hye-Knudsen, et al., 2003).
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