RISKS AND SAFETY PROCEDURES IN THE MANUAL HANDLING OF DISABLED PATIENTS

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The importance of spinal column disorders has long been known, both for their frequency in working environments and the social consequences they provoke, i.e. absence from work and social insur- ance costs. Manual handling of disabled patients – as regards movement – is one of the major factors affecting acute low back pain of exposed nursing staff. In the ab- sence of quantitative methods assessing this kind of risk, the Research Unit Ergo- nomics of Posture and Movement of Milan developed in 1997 a risk assessment method called Movement and Assistance of Hospital Patients (MAPO), which is appli- cable in hospital wards. The MAPO index can be used as a risk index, although with some caution. It can assess the risk expo- sure level of patient manual handling in wards and can be a useful tool for plan- ning effective preventive actions to reduce the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in health-care workers looking after disabled patients. It is clear that measures for improvement of the environment are required aimed particularly at installing aids and staff training (for the specific risk factor), also so as to better manage the reallocation of workers judged unfit for patient handling.
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