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PT/OT: Lifting requirements for physical therapists


Are there different lifting requirements for Physical Therapists or is it the same for all healthcare workers as you have posted?

Theresa Keenan


Dear Theresa:

To the best of our knowledge, the most recent revised NIOSH lifting equation guidelines apply for virtually all patient-lifting and handling tasks in healthcare, whether in nursing or in physical therapy. The maximum recommended weight limit is 35 lbs.—but it can be even less when the task to be performed involves less than ideal circumstances such as lifting with extended arms, lifting when near the floor, lifting when sitting or kneeling, lifting with the trunk twisted or the load off to the side of the body, lifting with one hand or in a restricted space, or lifting during a shift lasting longer than eight hours. When weight to be lifted exceeds this limit, assistive devices should be used.

For virtually all types of healthcare facilities, NIOSH also advocates a safe lifting program for employees including three main components: assistive lifting equipment; training on the use of the equipment; and written lifting policies. Further, any lifting or handling tasks should be performed smoothly and slowly, and the “geometry” of the lift— the body and hand positions in relation to the object being lifted—should be well planned in advance of lifting the patient or a limb.

Stay safe,