Ergonomics in the Healthcare Industry

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Proper ergonomics is very important in the healthcare industry. Employees in healthcare establishments are exposed to various activities that place them at risk for injury if proper ergonomics is not followed.

The risk does not just exist for employees that lift and handle patients, but also for maintenance, housekeeping, food service, laundry workers, and all others. It is vitally important to conduct a workplace hazard assessment to determine the hazards that exist and the engineering or work practice controls that need to be put into place. 

Employees often transfer and lift various pieces of medical equipment. Some ways to lower the risk of injury are as follows:

  • Don’t pull on equipment, it is easier to push it.
  • Do use devices with wheels, such as carts or dollies.
  • Do ensure your path of travel is clear and free of obstructions.
  • Don’t lift equipment that is too heavy or awkward to handle without assistance.

Employees working in food services, maintenance, and laundry areas often must reach into deep containers or sinks. These tasks can put a strain on various muscles and parts of the body such as the back and shoulders. Some ways to lower the risk of injury are as follows:

  • Do raise the item you are washing by placing a plastic container or other similar item upside-down and under the item.
  • Do wash items on the counter or in smaller basins prior to placing it in the sink for rinsing.

Employees in the healthcare industry often lift bagged items such as trash and laundry. Some ways to help prevent the risk of injury are as follows:

  • Do use carts, rolling laundry containers, and rolling trash cans.
  • Do get help from a co-worker when the item is too large, heavy, or awkward to handle.
  • Do be aware of the weight and size of the bags.
  • Do place dumpsters and trash chutes at an easily accessible level to avoid overreaching and stretching.

Employees in food services, laundry, and housekeeping often reach into and push heavy carts. Some ways to help prevent the risk of injury are as follows:

  • Do ensure all carts and other rolling devices are in good condition and roll easily.
  • Do ensure carts can be pushed at waist to chest height.
  • Do push carts instead of pulling them.
  • Don’t use a cart that is damaged and not working properly.
  • Do ensure all pathways of travel are clear and free of obstructions.
  • Don’t push a cart that is too heavy, get help.

Employees in the maintenance/engineering department often operate various hand tools. They are exposed to various types of injuries if proper ergonomics is not followed. Some ways to reduce the risk of injury are as follows:

  • Do ensure the tool fits the person using it and has an ergonomic design.
  • Don’t operate a tool that is too heavy.
  • Do use power tools where possible to help reduce repetitive motions.
  • Don’t operate tools that generate excessive vibrations.
  • Do use tools that have padded non-slip handles.

Employees performing cleaning and housekeeping duties are also at risk for injury resulting from poor ergonomics. Some ways to help lower the risk of injury are as follows:

  • Do use carts and other rolling devices to transport clean supplies/materials.
  • Do use vacuums, floor machines, mops, and other cleaning supplies that are lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Don’t bend and twist but avoid awkward movements.
  • Don’t pull on cleaning equipment.
  • Do use ladders and step stools when necessary to prevent overreaching.
  • Do alternate motions when vacuuming or mopping floors.
  • Do allow surfaces to pre-soak to help reduce the need for forceful cleaning.
  • Do reduce stress by alternating employees during more difficult tasks.



United States Department of Labor.  Occupational Safety & Health Administration.  Hospital eTool. Healthcare Wide Hazards Ergonomics.  Other Ergonomic Hazards.  Retrieved from

KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.