A ceiling hoist is a device that consists of a track attached to the ceiling, a manual or battery-powered lifting unit attached to the track, a sling that is attached to the lifting unit, and is used to transfer people between two locations (e.g. wheelchair and bed).
In June 2009, a systematic review titled, The effectiveness of ceiling hoists in transferring people with disabilities (PDF, 599 kB), (non Queensland Government link) was completed by the University of New South Wales and found strong evidence that ceiling hoists significantly decreased musculoskeletal injuries and physical stress for care-givers.
Research shows that where ceiling hoists have been installed, the incidence of shoulder and back injuries from handling people has decreased by up to 58 per cent.
Where ceiling hoists have been installed, significant injury reduction outcomes ensued. Payback periods (i.e. return on investment through reduced injuries and absenteeism) for mechanical aids varied from less than a year to three years, depending on equipment purchased and the amount of training provided. Injury reduction rates of 58 to 72 per cent were achieved within one to three years.
There is still a misconception that the installation (both retrofitting and in new buildings) of ceiling hoists can be costly. However, most ceiling hoists can be purchased and fitted for around $7000 - not very expensive compared with the cost of a back injury or shoulder injury (e.g. for Queensland in 2008/09 a shoulder injury claim in the health and community services sector cost an average of $8600. The average time off work was 30 days).
One study showed the payback period for the installation of ceiling hoists was 0.82 years to 2.5 years.
Each situation is different. However, when determining what type of lifting equipment is best, remember that mobile hoists:
Ceiling hoist tracks should be dusted as per the regular dusting schedule for rooms. The hook that is attached to the hoist and moves from patient room to the next should be wiped over between patients with detergent and water, an impregnated detergent wipe or an alcohol wipe. The cloth sling should be allocated to the one patient and sent to the laundry on discharge as needed when soiled.
Read abstracts from the above reviews by downloading References about ceiling hoists (PDF, 80 kB).
Visit the NIOSH website for information on Safe lifting and movement of nursing home residents.
To find out about the range of ceiling hoists available contact LifeTec Queensland (Non-government link).
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Nelson A., Fragala G (2004) Equipment for safe patient handling and movement, in: W Charney and A Nelson, eds, Back Injury among healthcare workers: causes, solutions and impacts. (pp. 121-135): Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton.
OHSAH (2006) Ceiling lifts as an intervention to reduce the risk of patient handling injuries. Unpublished literature review. Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC.
Martimo KP, Verbeek J, Karppinen J, Furlan AD, Takala EP, Kuijer PP et al. (2008) Effect of training and lifting equipment for preventing back pain in lifting and handling: systematic review. Brit Med J, 336(7641): 429-431. Nelson A., Fragala G. (2004).
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Alamgir H, Li OW, Yu S, Gorman E, Fast C,. Evaluation of ceiling lifts: transfer time, patient comfort and staff perceptions. Injury. 2009 Sep;40(9):987-92. Epub 2009 May 31.
Statistics and Evaluation Department, Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH), BC, Canada . email@example.com.
Alamgir H, Yu S, Fast C, Hennessy S, Kidd C, Yassi A. Efficiency of overhead ceiling lifts in reducing musculoskeletal injury among carers working in long-term care institutions. Injury. 2008 May;39(5):570-7.
Statistics and Evaluation Department, Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare, Vancouver, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org.