A resident at an aged care facility was seriously injured after an incident occurred involving a portable hoist with a sling attachment. The resident was being transferred to the shower in a sling when the four sling clips attached to the portable hoist failed, causing the resident to fall. The aged care facility was unable to determine the age of the sling or its last test date.
Slings are made by a variety of manufacturers and used in hospital, rehabilitation, disability and aged care facilities to transfer people who require assistance for showering, toileting, and moving from position to position (eg on and off beds, tables, baths and chairs).
As an employer, you must provide the highest level of protection against risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Check manufacturer instructions and ensure they are followed for use, maintenance and cleaning.
Ensure slings are compatible with the portable hoist they are being attached to.
Ensure slings are checked before each use for any signs of wear or damage.
Arrange for a competent person to carry out examinations twice a year on all slings and a yearly examination of all hoists as per AS/NZS ISO 10535. An example of a competent person is a person who has been delegated by the employer and been trained in design, use and care by the manufacturer/supplier in conformance with relevant standards.
Prepare an inventory and keep records of the dates you purchase and commission slings, and the dates any testing and maintenance is done.
Withdraw slings that are found to be damaged (including tears, fraying, loose threads in material, stitching, seams and straps, or cracks and breaks in sling clips or other components). Slings that have a label that is illegible or no other identification information should be returned to the supplier for repair, load testing and re-labelling, or disposal.
Clean slings in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to do so can result in damage or rapid deterioration of the sling components, which may lead to equipment failure and serious injury.
Information, instruction, training and supervision
Employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary for employees to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health. This includes ensuring workers know how to inspect slings and reduce the risk of them failing.
Note - Wheelchairs, commode and shower chairs and trolleys should be used to transport patients.
See AS/NZS ISO 10535: Hoists for the transfer of disabled persons - Requirements and test methods for additional information on the safe use of slings, and maintenance and testing requirements.
On 18 June 2017, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations 2017) replaced the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 (OHS Regulations 2007), which expired on this date. This publication has not yet been updated to reflect the changes introduced by the OHS Regulations 2017 and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice.
Information on the key changes introduced by the OHS 2017 Regulations can be found in the guidance titled Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017: Summary of changes. However, this guidance document contains material of a general nature only and is not to be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice.