Ergonomic evaluation of hospital bed design features during patient handling tasks Academic Article uri icon


  • Patient handling tasks (e.g., transportation and repositioning) are important causes of musculoskeletal disorders among healthcare workers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate, during two patient handling tasks, the physical demands resulting from alternative hospital bed design features. Twenty-four novice participants were involved in two laboratory-based studies. The effects of a steering lock and adjustable push height were evaluated during a patient transportation task using perceptual responses and measures of performance and physical demands, and the effect of a bed contour feature was determined based on patient sliding distance during repeated bed raising/lowering. Use of the steering lock reduced the number of adjustments during bed maneuvering by 28% and decreased ratings of physical demands. Use of the adjustable push height reduced shoulder moments by 30%. With the contour feature, patient sliding distance was reduced by ~40% over 12 raise/lower cycles. These results suggest that the steering lock and adjustable push height features can reduce physical demands placed on healthcare workers during patient transportation tasks. Although patient sliding distance was reduced using the contour feature, assessing direct effects of this feature on physical demands (e.g., reduced need for workers to reposition patients) will require further investigation. Relevance to industry: Hospital bed design features have the potential to reduce physical demands required of healthcare workers, yet there have been only limited empirical studies of these. Findings of the two current studies suggest that proactive ergonomic considerations in hospital bed design can reduce these physical demands. 2011 Elsevier B.V.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Mehta, R. K., Horton, L. M., Agnew, M. J., & Nussbaum, M. A.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Mehta, Ranjana K||Horton, Leanna M||Agnew, Michael J||Nussbaum, Maury A

publication date

  • November 2011