Am I Required to Manually Lift Heavy Patients?

Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD

Disclosures

June 21, 2013

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Question

I work in a urology office. Many of our disabled patients must be lifted out of bed using a hydraulic lift. Here at the clinic, a physician expects 2 women to lift these patients onto the examination table. I already take gabapentin for neck and back pain. What can I do to stop this situation?

Response from Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD
Healthcare attorney

Very Heavy Lifting

Lifting more than 100 lb is considered very heavy work. In the Code of Federal Regulations,[1] jobs are classified according to physical exertion requirements: sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy. According to the regulations:

Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out job duties. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met.
Light work involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Even though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this category when it requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls. To be considered capable of performing a full or wide range of light work, [a worker] must have the ability to do substantially all of these activities....
Medium work involves lifting no more than 50 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds....
Heavy work involves lifting no more than 100 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 50 pounds....
Very heavy work involves lifting objects weighing more than 100 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing 50 pounds or more....

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