Patient Hoists and Patient Slings – common defects and preventative measures

Patient Hoists and Patient Slings – common defects and preventative measures

There is a wide range of patient hoists and associated slings in common use in health and social care settings as manual handling aids for those that lack mobility. These hoists include, but are not limited to, pool hoists, bath hoists, ceiling hoists and mobile hoists.

It therefore falls on the care provider to ensure that the staff using the equipment are properly trained and that the equipment is safe to use, is maintained and thoroughly examined. To meet the regulatory requirements of:

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

To comply with these statutory requirements, all lifting operations must be properly planned and the equipment must be thoroughly examined at suitable intervals by a competent person. Thurra’s engineers ensure that patient hoists and patient slings, as required by LOLER 1998 (Approved Code of Practice and Guidance), are thoroughly examined every 6 months.

At Thurra we provide independent examinations by experienced and highly qualified engineers to ensure that the lifting equipment used in health and social care is safe to use.

The 5 most common defects associated with Patient Hoists and Patient Slings

  1. Hoist, loss of hydraulic pressure. Most portable hoists, bath hoists and pool hoists consist of a small hand or electrically operated pump complete with a hydraulic ram. With constant use, some of the main components wear and in doing so may cause a hydraulic leak which is not always noticeable. Leaking hydraulic fluid can be either visible at the ram seal or pipe union. In other cases, a leak may be out of sight within the hydraulic pump or non-return valve. In either scenario such a leak may cause the person being lifted to descend slowly or in the worst case uncontrollably.

As part of the 6 monthly examination completed by Thurra, the condition of the hydraulic system is investigated and any concerns are brought to the immediate attention of the equipment owner. Thereby providing the equipment owner with the information required to ensure that only equipment that is safe is placed in service.

  1. Mobile hoist damaged transportation wheels. Once a patient has been lifted it is sometimes necessary to transport them over a short distance. Any damaged wheels will result in an uncomfortable ride and potentially an unstable situation.

The condition of the wheels, wheel locks, wheel bearings and supporting structure are examined at every visit and their condition is reported to the owner before the Thurra engineer leaves the premises.

  1. Frayed and worn hoist slings. With constant use, the condition of hoist slings will deteriorate over time. This deterioration will have a detrimental effect on the comfort of the hoist sling and ultimately its strength. In extreme circumstances there is the remote possibility that a patient, when being lifted and transported, could come out of the hoist sling and thereby sustain an injury.

Thurra’s engineers have clear guidelines as to the rejection and acceptance criteria of hoist slings. This includes any fraying of the fabric as well as the integrity of the stitching, tears, rips, loose threads, buckles and fasteners. All areas of concern are brought to the attention of the equipment owner immediately.

  1. Pool and bath hoists corroded components. Due to their location, pool and bath hoists are in constant contact with water. This will, over time, cause the metal work of the hoist to corrode. This includes the foundation bolts that keep the hoist securely in position at the water’s edge. In extreme circumstances there is the potential for the person being lifted to become unstable. It is through the regular examination of the hoist that its condition can be assessed, any potential deterioration identified and brought to the attention of the hoist owner.

The structural integrity of the pool and bath hoist is examined at every visit by Thurra’s engineers. The foundation bolts are checked to see that they remain securely fitted and that the structure of the hoist is mechanically robust for the environment that it is located.

  1. Distorted and bent lifting arms. Any distortion of the lifting arm will reduce the lifting capacity of the hoist. In doing so it puts the person being lifted at risk.

Thurra’s engineers have clear instructions regarding the structural integrity of a patient hoist. Any signs that the strength and operation of the hoist has been impaired, due to any distortion, are reported immediately to the equipment owner and advised that the equipment must be removed from service with immediate effect.

If you require advice or help on any of the above, please speak to your Insurance Broker who will be happy to arrange a call from Thurra for technical advice, or a visit by an experienced engineer.

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