NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Several years ago NIOSH developed an equation to determine safe lifting recommendations.
The short answer to your question is that the “ NIOSH Lifting Equation ” recommends 35 lbs. as a maximum recommended weight limit for patient lifting tasks. The same equation recommends 51 lbs. as a recommended weight limit for lifting items such as boxes or other stationary objects, assuming those objects are being handled under ideal conditions. We are not aware of a generic policy statement to that effect, but rather, we believe most facilities refer to the NIOSH documentation as a guideline for including those limits into other existing documents such as job descriptions, etc.
Rather than trying to summarize and explain the entire equation, we recommend you review the following article by NIOSH research scientist, Dr. Thomas Waters. It provides an excellent summary which should enable you to easily develop a policy statement to fit your needs.
When is it safe to manually lift a Patient
Finally, as we have stated in the past,
if a document such as a job description requires lifting a patient in excess of the 35 lb. recommended limit, then the OSHA General Duty clause should be consulted, which states that OSHA may cite employers for ergonomic hazards. Under the OSH Act ’ s General Duty Clause, employers “ must keep their workplaces free from recognized serious hazards, including ergonomic hazards. This requirement exists whether or not there are voluntary guidelines. ”
The Lift Doctor*