‘At What Point Can I Say The Patient Is Too Heavy For Two People To Roll?’

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I’m an AIN who was helping an overweight patient. He is recovering from multiple fractures and I had to roll him to change his continence aid and use lifters to toilet with the assistance of another staffer.

My question is at what point can I say the patient is too heavy for two people to roll? My back was sore after rolling him and repositioning. Why should I risk a back injury when we work in a no lift environment and where is the patient weight limit for manual handling?

Staff should be encouraged to request the patient to assist with the move wherever possible to reduce the load. The patient may utilise monkey bar, hold onto side rail or pull on mattress side to assist in rolling and push with heels to assist in moving up the bed. Use of bed functions is also encouraged such as Trendelenburg, bed tilt, to move up down the bed.

With respect to the question at “What point can I say the patient is too heavy for me to roll?”:

No one is expected to put themselves at risk of harm. Wherever a worker perceives they are being put at risk and have reasonable concerns they have a right under the S84 WHS Act to cease or refuse to carry out work.

84. Right of worker to cease unsafe work
A worker may cease, or refuse to carry out, work if the worker has a reasonable concern that to carry out the work would expose the worker to a serious risk to the worker’s health or safety, emanating from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.

No prescriptive weight is documented as all risks need to be assessed independently and within the limitations of individuals. Nurses should be consulting with management and other staff to seek the use of alternative equipment or assistance where required to minimise risk to both the worker and the patient.

Alternative methods for rolling may include such items as use of slide sheet, roller, mattress rotation, hoist or air transfer device. Such methods should be incorporated into regular and routine training packages that are specific to the hazardous manual tasks of the respective facility.

Do you have questions about work, health and safety? Let us know in the comments and we can answer them for you.

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