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Reducing Injuries in Radiology Technologists

There are some occasions when x-ray technologists are required to lift patients; it just comes with the job, and unfortunately, some technologists are injured in the process.  The good news is that there are ways to avoid these types of injuries.

According to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), 42% of all radiology technologists have had a work related injury. They also report that at least 26% have had multiple injuries, and 7% have had more than 10 injuries.  The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) guideline for the maximum amount of weight that should be “routinely” lifted is 51 pounds.  Well, most patients will weigh more than 51 pounds.  The average size of patients has increased over recent years. Recent studies have indicated that obesity is on the rise in the U.S., so it stands to reason that injuries will be occurring more often.

There are several practices that increase the risk for injury, according to an article at fit2wrk.com:

• Heavy lifting
• Twisting and/ or bending while lifting
• Stationary positions over extended periods of time
• Repetitive motions
Combining all of these over long periods of time can make the risk even greater for injury.

WebMD has a list of steps workers can take to reduce these risks.
• Seek assistance from other coworkers.  Do not try to lift patients alone.
• Keep a wide base of support. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other (karate stance).
• Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only. If necessary, put one knee to the floor and your other knee in front of you, bent at a right angle (half kneeling).
• Maintain good posture. Look straight ahead, and keep your back straight, your chest out, and your shoulders back. This helps keep your upper back straight while maintaining a slight arch in your lower back.
• Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back). Keep your back straight, and don't twist as you lift.
• Hold the load as close to your body as possible, at the level of your belly button.
• Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps.
• Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move.

Think before you lift.  Better to take just a few extra moments doing it the right way than missing work due to an injury.

Christian Smith, LMRT Program Director
Fort Worth Campus