Equipment Guide & Resources

Safe Patient Handling – Equipment Guide & Resources

Purchase of safe patient handling (SPH) equipment should occur after you have identified the hazards to be addressed that are related to patient handling (e.g. the type of lift, transfer, movement or patient care task) and the needs of the patient population (physical and cognitive abilities and clinical needs). 

End users (such as the caregiver) together with safe patient handling team members (including therapists), purchasing, facilities engineering and maintenance staff and vendors should be involved with equipment selection. Using a collaborative approach helps to ensure that the equipment choice made is one that fits your patient/resident, staff, facility’s design and organization needs.

It is also important that your SPH program and the equipment you purchase will ‘fit’ future needs of the organization, e.g. a changing patient population, changing surgical procedures or medical treatment protocols; facility design changes (new building, renovations or movement of units/depts.) etc., so that the maximum return on investment re equipment purchase is achieved.

Remember to ‘Try Before You Buy’– be an informed consumer. Conduct structured trials of equipment with the users before purchase to determine the best fit for patients/residents, staff and the physical work environment, etc.  Consider the following when evaluating SPH equipment (or any other medical device):

  • Effectiveness of device/system – does it fulfill the work-related needs and functions of the clinician using it (or needs of the user) and clinical goals?
  • Efficiency of use.
  • Acceptance by intended users of the system.
  • Comfort associated with the operator’s use of the system.
  • Potential safety or ergonomics related hazards or risk of error during use and anticipation of misuse of the device. Ensure new hazards are not created.
  • Needs related to support processes/systems., e.g. training, maintenance, infection control, regulatory design standards, etc.
  • Integration with other devices and overall clinical systems (upstream & downstream).

On this page:

Guidelines & Toolkits for Implementing SPH Programs


Other Resources

Guidelines and Toolkits

The Healthcare Recipient Sling and Lift Hanger Bar Compatibility Guidelines. American Association for Safe Patient Handling and Movement (AASPHM).  The goal of the guidelines is to provide information and recommendations about the compatibility of healthcare recipient (patient) slings and lift hanger bars. These will assist healthcare facilities and organizations, healthcare workers, sling and lift manufacturers, and retailers to facilitate safe use of slings and lift hanger bars in any setting where healthcare recipients are lifted, moved and mobilized. Download the Guidelines.

Safe Patient Handling – Equipment Purchasing Checklist (2008).
Developed by L. Enos, for the Oregon Coalition for Health Care Ergonomics (OCHE). This check list is designed to help you with the patient handling equipment assessment and purchase process. It should be used as part of a comprehensive a safe program plan.

Click here to access a variety of tools related to choosing Safe Patient Handling equipment from the VA Sunshine Health Care Network – VISN 8 Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, Tampa, FL such as:

  • Slings Toolkit
  • Technology Resource Guide
  • Patient Handling Equipment: Making Recommendations and Product Selections
  • Conference Presentation: One Size Does Not Fit All: Unit-Specific Equipment
  • Patient Lifting Equipment Coverage & Space Recommendations Document
  • Patient Handling Equipment: Making Recommendations and Product Selections

Slider Sheets and Safety Time Out and The 15 Second Patient Mobility Assessment – Pictorial Training Tools for Safe Patient Handling Practices courtesy of Kaiser Permanente NW.

Transfer Assist Devices for Safer Handling of Patients from Worksafe BC (British Columbia)

Information Specific to Ceiling Lifts:

From the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Health Care in British Columbia (OHSAH):logrolling1

Ceiling lifts as an intervention to reduce the risk of patient handling injuries: A Literature Review (2006)

Ceiling Lift Program Guide

Ceiling Lifts in Nuclear Medicine

Ceiling Lifts in an Intermediate Care Facility

Cost Benefit Analysis of Implementing Ceiling Lifts in Interior Health

Economic Evaluation of Ceiling Lifts in Vancouver Coastal HealthAM-Barivest_dual_perpendicularlow

Evaluation of Ceiling Lifts: Transfer Time, Patient Comfort and Staff Perceptions

Evaluation of the Ceiling Lift Pilot Coaching Program

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Ceiling Lifts in Extended Care  

Evaluation of the Resident Lifting System Project at St. Joseph’s General Hospital, Comox BC

Scientific Poster: Using a Ceiling Lift Takes Too Long! Does it Really?

Technological Innovations in Occupational Health and Safety in the Healthcare Industry New  and emerging technologies report March 31st, 2007.

The Ceiling Lift Project at St. Joseph’s General Hospital: Follow-up Evaluation August 2002QuickRaiser2+_2

From Worksafe BC (British Columbia):

Comprehensive Ceiling Lift Program in Continued Care – Final Report. Frasier Health Authority 2002

Comprehensive Ceiling Lift Program in Continuing Care at Queen’s Park Care Centre

 Development and Evaluation of a Model for a Home Care Ceiling Lift Program in B.C

WorkSafe Bulletin: Properly Install, Inspect, and Load Test Overhead Patient/Resident Track Lifts

From the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries:GH2HDrepolow

Ergonomic Ideas Bank – A searchable collection of ergonomics solutions including equipment for safe patient handling.

Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Total Body Patient-Resident Lifts. 1999.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sit-Stand Patient-Resident Devices. 1999.

Ergonomics Demonstration Project: St. Joseph Hospital, Bellingham, WA Employee Injury Prevention Project (2003).

From Workplace  Health and Safety Queensland, Australia References about ceiling hoists (2010)

Articles & Publications

Also refer to Articles on the Safe Patient Handling Acute and Long Term Care Pages

Biomechanical Evaluation of Friction-Reducing Devices for Lateral Patient Transfers (2006).  Lloyd, J & Baptiste, A. AAOHN Journal, 54(3), 113-119.

Effectiveness of installing overhead ceiling lifts. Reducing musculoskeletal injuries in an extended care hospital unit (2002). Ronald, L.A., Yassi, A., Spiegel, J., Tate, R.B., Tait, D. & Mozel, M.R.  AAOHN Journal, 50(3), 120-127.

Effects of two hospital bed design features on physical demands and usability during brake engagement and patient transportation: A repeated measures experimental study (2009).  Sunwook , K et. al. International Journal of Nursing Studies 46: 317–325.

Evaluation of Ceiling Lifts in Health Care Settings: Patient Outcomes and Perceptions (2009). Alamgir, H., Wei, Li O, Gorman, E.  Fast, C., Yu, S., & Kidd, C. AAOHN 57(9):

Patient Handling Tasks with High Risk for Musculoskeletal Disorders in Critical Care (2007).  Waters, T.R., & Nelson, A. Crit Care Nurs Clin N Am 19 (2007) 131–143.

Biomechanical Evaluation of Pressure Distribution during Extended Use of HoverMatt™ Technology (2010) John D. Lloyd.

Proper Sling Selection and Application while using Patient Lifts (2008). Baptiste, A. et al.  Rehabilitation Nursing. 33(1);22-32.

Protocol for Safe Use of Patient Handling Slings – Does One Size Fit All? Wright, L et. al. AOHP Journal Fall 2005; 28-35.

Successful Implementation of Ceiling-Mounted Lift Systems (2008). Weinel, D. Rehabilitation Nursing 33(2): 63-87.

Technology Solutions for High-Risk Tasks in Critical Care (2007). Baptiste, A.  Crit Care Nurs Clin N Am 19 (2007) 177–186.

The Evaluation of Mechanical Devices for Lateral Transfers on Perceived Exertion and Patient Comfort (2006). Pellino, T. A. Owen, B., Knapp, L., &  Noack, J. Orthopaedic Nursing, 25(1); 4-10.


Other Resources

Manual Patient Handling vs. Safe Patient Handling. A one page quick guide from Oregon Nurses Association (ONA)

A Guide to Equipment used to Safely Move, Lift and/or Reposition Patients or Residents. A brief guide for patients and families (ONA)

SPH Equipment Information for Patients from Good Shepherd Medical Center, Hermiston, OR

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Medical Device information & resources Information for Health Care Professional, Manufacturers and Consumers.

Evaluation of Ceiling-Mounted Patient Lifts and a vairety of Medical Device Safety Reports and Evaluations from the ECRI Institute

Mechanical Lifts Using lifts in Residential Care and Assisted Living in Facilities. Administrator Alert June 2008. Oregon DHS Seniors and People with Disabilities.

Patient Handling and Movement Assessments: A White Paper (2010). Associated with the 2010Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities from the Facilities Guidelines Institute.