Blog Post #1082 – Nova Scotia Supports Home-Care Safety

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Nova Scotia is investing $1.86 million to support the purchase of safety equipment and education opportunities for home support workers, the provincial government announced on July 18, 2019.

Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey says these investments provide staff with the tools they need to do their jobs more safely.

An investment of $1.36 million will support education and training opportunities through groups like Health Care Human Resource Sector Council and learnSphere and non-violent crisis intervention training for nurses, while $500,000 will be used to buy equipment, including slider sheets and transfer belts to help home-support workers move clients more safely to prevent job-related injuries.

“This is a welcome investment in the health system,” Jeff Densmore, regional Executive Director for the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) in Nova Scotia, says in a statement. “Ensuring that VON nurses and Continuing Care Assistants are able to provide care without risking their own health is key to our ability to serve our clients while. We look forward to the improvements this will bring.”

Funding for the initiative came from Canada-Nova Scotia and Community Care and Mental Health and Addiction Services Funding Agreement.

My opinion

The world of the PSW (personal support worker) is a tough one indeed. The ability to move a large person, especially when he/she does not want to be moved, can become a back-breaking exercise and the worker can be injured.

Preventing back injury while working as a Personal Support Worker

Back injuries are a major occupational hazard for Personal Support Workers (PSW). There are ways to prevent these back injuries and enjoy a safe, healthy, happy, fulfilling career.

The duties of a personal support worker are to assist elderly and disabled individuals with activities of daily living including bathing, grooming and toileting. This includes everything from washing and combing hair to helping manage incontinence issues and clean up. PSW’s job description also includes help with patient or resident ambulation, movement and repositioning.

This is where back injuries occur most often.

Not only are workers sometimes lifting the partial or whole weight of another person, often that patient or resident can be struggling or working against you.

Good body mechanics is the first line of defense against back injury. This means the way you position your own body and use your own weight to move and lift patients or clients.

The first rule is to get assistance whenever possible. It is always better to have two people repositioning a patient or client or transferring them from bed to chair or chair to chair. In some instances, it is actually impossible to transfer a patient alone.

Keep in mind the following techniques when lifting another person or helping them stand or transfer:

  • Always have your own feet flat on the floor and shoulder width apart when possible, have one foot in front of another. This gives stability.
  • Bend your knees, that is, let your legs help lift the weight.
  • Always keep the weight you are lifting close to you.
  • Do not twist your spine, move your feet instead.
  • Your toes should always point in the direction of the weight you are lifting.
  • Keep your head and shoulders erect and your hips tucked under.
  • Lift smoothly, never with a jerky movement.
  • Always tell the person you are transferring what you are doing. That way, if they are capable, they can be cooperative and won’t be frightened and work against you.

When repositioning a patient or client in the bed, the personal support worker (PSW) should, whenever possible, use a pushing rather than a pulling motion. To avoid PSW back injury keep your arms close to your own body with elbows bent. Use your own body weight to push, not just your arm strength with arms outstretched.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.




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