Without adequate measures in place, building management and maintenance work often presents all kinds of workplace safety concerns — especially at large hospitals and clinics. Specifically, transporting tools, supplies, and equipment around a facility is strenuous work for almost anyone. Even if your staff isn’t complaining now, the impact over time can be debilitating musculoskeletal injuries.
Safety Risks for Healthcare Campus Maintenance Staff
Thanks to OSHA’s research, we know that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can occur even when pushing, pulling, or lifting loads as light as 40 lbs or less. This is for two reasons:
- Every person’s body is unique, which means that some individuals will experience greater or lesser amount of strain when pushing or pulling the same item.
- A material doesn’t have to be heavy to cause damage when the required movement is repetitive, or physically awkward.
This means that even the most physically fit janitorial staff, repair workers, and building managers are at risk when manually transporting tools and supplies around a healthcare campus. The tools required on the job can weigh hundreds of pounds, and using manual carts to move this equipment requires tradespeople to exert the kind of push/pull forces that cause MSDs. With the sheer distances healthcare maintenance staff must travel with their tools and equipment, their risk for serious strains, sprains, and carpal tunnel is significant.
One of our healthcare industry customers had this exact problem at their flagship campus. They chose to address the problem with retrofitted solutions, and the result has been higher productivity, longer employee retention, and better morale.
How To Keep Maintenance Staff Safe With Motorized Tool Carts & Tuggers
In order to fix a hidden problem, we have to know how to identify it. To address MSD risk in healthcare maintenance staff, first educate all staff about how heavy loads can cause MSDs and stay updated on relevant information from the DOL and OSHA. This will empower both employees and management to spot previously unknown risks and assist you in creating a safer workplace for everyone. Employees can help you identify all the different activities they use manual carts for, including where they need to go and what they need to carry.
Once problematic areas are identified through education and staff feedback, invest in new equipment wherever needed. Motorized tool carts can offer necessary tool and supply storage, while eliminating the push/pull forces that cause MSDs. In the aforementioned retrofit case study, the customer mounted their existing manual tool carts onto standard motorized platform carts from Electro Kinetic Technologies and ensured that they could safely operate wherever needed. The different trades, including painters, plumbers, mechanics, and electricians, also added provisions to carry other items needed for their particular type of work.
Other ergonomic tool cart solutions involve mounting a workbench onto a motorized cart, or motorizing a manual tool cart using a retrofit kit. For healthcare campuses that can’t alter or dispose of existing carts, or would prefer a solution that can transport more than one load, an electric tugger might be ideal. Tuggers can pull different carts at different times, are powerful enough to tow multiple loads at once, and can be outfitted with a variety of hitches.
For more information on healthcare industry MSDs and ergonomic motorized tool carts and tuggers, contact one of our team members.