Safe Patient Handling

Safe Patient Handling


Nurses, hospital orderlies and nursing home attendants have a backbreaking job: They have the highest rate of musculoskeletal disorders of any occupation, higher than construction workers, or laborers or industrial mechanics.

The tremendous risk of injury for frontline healthcare workers comes from moving, lifting and positioning patients, many of whom have limited to no mobility. Other types of workers who provide direct care to patients are also at risk, including physical and occupational therapists, teachers’ aides for disabled students, radiology assistants, and medical transport workers. In all of these occupations, the traditional method of manually lifting and positioning patients put both workers and the patients themselves in harm’s way. It also drives up costs to consumers and taxpayers through the price of workers’ compensation, replacement employees and medical care for injured workers.

The good news is that “zero lift policies,” also known as safe patient handling (SPH) programs have been proven to dramatically reduce injuries, lost workdays and worker compensation costs while contributing to an improved work environment and boosting patient care.


Mission: NYCOSH’s Safe Patient Handling project aims to raise awareness about the dangers faced by healthcare and other workers responsible for lifting or moving patients; develop greater understanding among healthcare workers, administrators and the policy makers of the advantages of SPH programs; conduct assessments and training toward implementing effective programs; training health care workers to use appropriate mechanical devices; and secure greater resources to address this major occupational health issue.


NYCOSH's recent activities include:

- The development of SPH committees in Metro NYC and on Long Island, bringing together a range of organizations to coordinate education and outreach.

- Co-hosting three SPH handling conferences in the past two years, attended by over four hundred participants, in Brentwood, Stonybrook and Manhattan.

- Working with the New York State Zero Lift Task Force to develop and promote federal and state legislation.

- Curriculum development and a pilot project under the auspices of an OSHA Susan Harwood Grant.

- Development of a SPH training center that will make it possible to provide hands-on training using state of the art equipment.

Resources and Links on Safe Patient Handling:

New York State Zero Lift Task Force

Fourth Annual Safe Patient Handling Conference Agenda and Materials, NY State

Zero Lift NY Fact Sheets:

Fact Sheet 1: Patients and Caregivers are Injured by Manual Lifting

Fact Sheet 2: Quality of Care for Patients Improves from SPH Programs

Fact Sheet 3: Healthcare Work is Among Most Hazardous in Nation

Fact Sheet 4: Healthcare Work is Among Most Hazardous in State

Fact Sheet 5: Investing in Safe Patient Handling is Money in the Bank

Fact Sheet 7: We Are Losing Our Healthcare Workers

Fact Sheet 8: Body Mechanics Techniques Have Not Reduced Back Injuries

Fact Sheet 9: Extreme Demands of Manual Lifting Are Causing Needless Injury

Fact Sheet 10: Dangerous Manual Patient Transfers Injure Patients

Fact Sheet 11: Nursing is Comparable to the Most Physically Demanding Jobs

NYCOSH Offices:

New York City
61 Broadway - Suite 1710
NY, NY 10006
(Fax) 212-227-9854

Long Island
150 Motor Parkway - Suite 306
Hauppauge, NY 11788
(Fax) 631-435-1893