Mobile hoists have become an essential part of moving and handling equipment for many patients and carers in domestic and acute care settings. Helping people achieve safer means of patient transfer from one surface to another - and increase health and safety for both patients (lower risk of falling) and carers (lessened risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders).

Due to the significance of mobile hoists, we're often asked; how to carry-out various checks on hoisting equipment. In this post, we aim to give a little more insight into checking hoists prior to using - for the safest transfer.

There should be a number of safety checks in place that ensures that the mobile hoists remain safe for both the patient and their carers. Here is a checklist you can use before operating a ceiling track hoist to make sure your system is in tip-top condition.

What checks should be in place?

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that your hoist has routine maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. There are items on the hoist which require periodic replacement such as the batteries, actuators and straps for example.

Hoists also require a LOLER examination, this is the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations. The regulations apply to people and companies who own, operate or have control over lifting equipment. This includes all businesses and organisations whose employees use lifting equipment, whether owned by them or not. In most cases, lifting equipment is also work equipment so the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) will also apply. The LOLER examination is normally at 6 monthly intervals.

What checks can I do?

There are checks that should take place before each time the hoist is used, this will usually be the responsibility of the carer. These are largely just visual checks or the hoist, sling and environment.

Is your hoist compliant with CQC and HSE?

Your ceiling track hoist system 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.

You can check whether your hoist has been serviced in the last six months – there’s usually a sticker on the unit itself with a date. (Find out more about hoist servicing and maintenance here.)

Is the hoist unit 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 was lifting a patient.

Use the handset to check the tapes go up and down, and pull the unit along the track to make sure that the trolleys are working fine and you won’t have any problems.

If you have an X-Y 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 hoist unit through them.

Have you checked the sling?

With most patients, you’ll be using a hoist sling to help lift and move them around. Just like the hoist unit and track, the sling should also be checked for any signs of damage or malfunction.

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 patient.

The sling serial number should be visible and not worn, and double check that the sling is the right style and size for the patient (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.

Also 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 clip fixing spreader bars.

You should also check if the sling is clean.

Are you trained to use the hoist safely?

Before you even get going with any part of the hoist system – have you been trained in how to use it?

Ceiling track hoists are vital pieces of patient lifting equipment, so getting trained up on how to use them is very important. We usually conduct a training session wherever we’ve installed a system and we can carry-out more training if necessary. Contact us here to discover our training solution.

Summary

So here are a few elements to consider before using a ceiling track hoist. Try and get into the habit of carrying out these checks before every transfer to make sure that you and the patient are as safe and calm as can be. Access our health and safety checklist here.

Discover the Medaco solution

Medaco can provide routine LOLER examinations and maintenance on a wide range of equipment. We can also provide Moving and Handling Training and training specifically on the use of hoisting equipment and slings. Please contact us for more information.

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