Last updated: May 12. 2014 5:02PM - 655 Views
By Heather Rutz hrutz@civitasmedia.com

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PANDORA — People lifting other people is the No. 1 cause of workplace injury in Ohio.

At Hilty Home, eight new ceiling lifts will reduce the risk. The nursing care facility funded them largely with a $39,600 Safety Intervention Grant from Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Bureau Administrator and CEO Steve Buehrer saw the lifts in action when he visited the facility Monday to increase awareness about the agency’s increased funding for safety grants.

“One of the biggest things you can do for people in Ohio is bring them back safe and sound home without injury from work,” Buehrer said.

The bureau is more focused on preventing workplace injury, and helping employees return to work sooner, Buehrer said.

If an employee is off work for more than 30 days, the chances of him returning to work “falls off a cliff,” Buehrer said. If an employee is out 45 days, there is a 60 percent chance he will be out 125 days.

The lifts provide a safer and gentler way for people with physical limitations to get into and out of bed and chairs. The lifts will also reduce muscle strains and injuries of employees responsible for transferring and lifting elders.

“Our caregivers are the backbones of our company, literally,” said Laura Voth, CEO of Hilty Home owner Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio. “Preserving our caregivers’ backs is important.”

Employees showed how the lifts work. They are located in eight semi-private rooms, so they can be used by 16 residents. A resident in bed has a fabric basket placed under them and the basket is hooked to a harness and line in the ceiling that first helps the person sit up, and then moved to another bed, chair or wheelchair.

Employees said about 40 percent of residents need lift help in some way.

The eight lifts cost $53,400 in total. Hilty Home started with memorial gifts from families who had a loved one stay there, and added $6,600 from a community “Give our Residents a Lift” capital campaign. The bureau’s grant program matches $3 for every local dollar.

For this year and next, the bureau is tripling its safety grant program, Buehrer said, from $5 million to $15 million. The agency also broadened the kinds of things an employer can spend the grant on and removed lifetime maximum awards.

Employers who make a safety grant purchase experience a 66 percent reduction in their worker’s compensation claims.

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