The 2023 SPD State of the Industry Report revealed that more than 47% of participants reported having been injured while on the job. Beyond the scope of sticks and strains, there are additional studies that show musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) can occur due to long-term, repetitive movements and strains that go uncorrected.
There are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce workplace injuries and increase health awareness in the workplace.
Evaluations: Review your workflow and audit practices routinely.
Routine evaluations provide accountability for both the process and the practice. It is important to audit equipment and workflows on a routine basis to ensure sterile processing departments (SPD) and Endoscopy departments are operating efficiently and safely. Workflows, equipment, and processes that worked in the past may no longer be suitable for safe work now. Evaluations may be needed for new equipment, renovations, and in response to an increase in reported injuries.
When running an evaluation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends identifying the following risk factors: “awkward postures, repetition, force, mechanical compression, vibration, temperature extremes, inadequate lighting and duration of exposure.”
Some practical evaluation exercises include:
- Workflow mapping
- Data analytics (productivity measurements, staff accident reporting, equipment down-time, quality reports)
- Team interviews
Ergonomics: Know the impact of the labor requirements on GI or SPD technicians.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that a good ergonomics program “lessens muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.”
Ergonomics programs should be focused on fitting the job to the person. This can be applied when considering personal protective equipment (PPE), new reprocessing equipment, layout planning for construction projects, IT requirements, workstations, and ease of transportation of surgical instruments and endoscopes through decontamination to storage.
Providing ergonomic solutions may take a work group to assess, consider and execute. Consider including your infection prevention, safety, and facilities teams in project planning to ensure all perspectives are factored in to deliver ergonomically optimal solutions for your team.
Education: Know the benefits of ergonomics and wellness.
Knowledge is power when it comes to ergonomics and health awareness. To reap the full benefits of the ergonomics program established, the team needs to understand how to utilize it to its fullest extent. Topics of ergonomic wellness should include equipment operations, ergonomic features, appropriate body posture and muscle engagement (I.e., range of motion, stretching etc.). Education platforms can include demonstrations, in-services, and updated standard operating procedures, also called standard work.
When we make ergonomics part of the everyday discussion, we inform, enlighten, and bring awareness to our team’s well being.
Looking for solutions to remedy common ergonomics challenges, such as eye strain, muscle strain and other hazardous pain points? Our representatives can make recommendations for any department!
The SPD State of the Industry Survey is an annual, free, anonymous survey asking real sterile processing professionals across the country about their experiences, backgrounds, and challenges they face in their departments. We hope by providing access to free industry research and data, instrument reprocessing professionals can better grow, develop and improve their own departments through the experience of their peers. We are grateful for all the professionals who participate each year, and the contributions to their patients and facilities: thank you for all you do!