Mobile hoists and ceiling hoists have become an essential part of moving and handling equipment for many patients and carers in domestic and acute care settings. Make sure you are carrying out these 6 hoist safety checks prior to each use.
Manual handling equipment helps people achieve safer means of transfer from one surface to another – and increases health and safety for both service users (lower risk of falling) and carers (lessened risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders).
Due to the significance of mobile and ceiling hoists, we’re often asked; “How do I carry-out hoist safety checks prior to each use?” In this post, we aim to give a little more insight into 6 hoist safety checks prior to each use – for the safest transfer.
The above video highlights several safety checks you should put in place that ensure the hoists remain safe for both the service user and their carers. Here is a comprehensive checklist you can use before operating a mobile or ceiling track hoist to make sure your system is safe to use. Even if you are familiar with using the equipment.
Check 1 – Check the hoist has been serviced in the last 6 months
The first thing to check is the service label and if it is in date. This is for hoists, slings, and any accessories. Your ceiling track hoist system, mobile hoists, and any accessories should be serviced once a year and LOLER tested every six months. This will keep it in good condition and give you peace of mind that everything is in good working order.
So, make sure your mobile or ceiling hoist is in date before using. If it isn’t in date, make sure you report it to your service and maintenance provider so that they can schedule an urgent service.
Check 2 – Check the hoist unit is fully functional
Check the movement of the hoist unit before you start using it. This is very straightforward; just use the hoist as you would if it were lifting a service user.
Use the handset to check the hoist goes up and down, and move the hoist backward and forwards, or on the ceiling hoist track to make sure there aren’t any obvious signs of damage. Make sure the wheels or trolley is turning and free from obstruction.
If you have an X-Y ceiling hoist system installed, then you can also check that the traverse rail (the one that runs between the two parallel rails) can move around. Other components like transit couplings and turntables can also be checked by taking the ceiling hoist unit through them.
Check the wiring on the handset to make sure there are no obvious visible issues, such as the wiring coming loose and uncurled.
Check 3 – Check the sling is correct and in good condition
With most service users, you’ll be using a hoist sling to help lift and move them around. Just like the hoist unit and ceiling hoist track, the sling should also be checked for any signs of damage or malfunction prior to every use.
Take a good look at the sling; if you see any tears in the fabric then the sling should not be used. Any damage (no matter how small) can cause concern for the safety of the service user.
The sling serial number should be visible and not worn, and double-check that the sling is the right style and size for the user (this should be detailed in the person’s care plan). If it’s a loop fixing sling, also ensure that you use the right colour loops on the shoulder and leg straps – again this should be detailed in the care plan.
Ensure that it is the right type of fixing on the sling for the hoist – clip slings should never be used on loop fixing spreader bars, and loop fixing slings should never be used on a clip fixing spreader bar.
You should also check that it has been washed and cared for according to the manufacture’s guidelines. Check the condition of the label. Can you still read the care instructions on it?
Check 4 – Check the safe working load of the hoist is adequate for the transfer
Ensure the safe working load of the equipment and accessories are adequate for the transfer.
It is important that you know the safe working load of any hoist that you use, as well as the weight of the person being transferred. This can be found in their care plan and risk assessment.
The safe working load should always be visible somewhere on the hoist. Usually on the boom of the mobile hoist or unit of the overhead hoist. One thing to bear in mind with a ceiling hoist is that the safe working load of the overhead unit may be different from the track. Always use the minimum safe working load as your point of reference.
Check 5 – Check that the hoist brakes are off
For mobile hoists, it’s important to remember that when the hoist is in use, the brakes must be off. The hoist will find its own centre of gravity.
If the brakes are on, the service user will potentially be pulled in an uncomfortable position towards the hoist.
It is good practice to put the brakes on when the hoist is in storage or not in use. You should also turn the battery off and put it on charge to prolong its life.
Check 6 – Check the location of the emergency functions
One final safety check prior to using the hoist is to check and familiarise yourself with all operations and controls. This includes the emergency safety features of the hoist, such as the emergency stop and emergency lowering functions.
This will either be a red button, usually located in an accessible place on a mobile hoist. Or a red cord hanging down from a ceiling hoist.
It’s best practice to know where these are and check they work correctly before using the hoist.
Are you trained to use the hoist safely?
It is important to remember that before you even get going with any part of the hoist system – you must be trained in how to use it by a manual handling trainer.
Ceiling track hoists and mobile hoists are vital pieces of patient lifting equipment, so getting trained up on how to use them is very important. We can conduct a training session wherever we’ve installed a system and we can carry-out more training if necessary. Contact us to discover our training solutions.
Organisations that provide this equipment for service users are responsible for ensuring that their staff is competent and confident in using a full range of equipment. You never know what has happened in between each transfer, so get into the habit of carrying out these safety checks before every transfer to make sure that you and the service user are as safe and calm as can be.
If you see something that isn’t right. Don’t use it but report it to your service and maintenance provider so they can fix it and get you back up and running as soon as possible.
We have created a comprehensive list of further hoist safety checks prior to each, including the six above. Download the PDF and keep up near your hoist. Use it to remind yourself of what checks you should do before using a hoist.
Medaco provides routine LOLER examinations, annual servicing, and maintenance on a wide range of equipment. We also supply and install mobile and ceiling hoists to a variety of care settings from care homes, SEN schools, Hospitals, and Hospices. Contact us below if you would like more information on any of these services.
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