HWPP Case Study: HWPP Tools for Lean (pdf)
Population: Healthcare Workers
Problem: Safe Patient Handling


The Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP) is a toolkit to help employers implement a participatory Total Worker Health® program. The HWPP tools facilitate meaningful involvement of front-line workers in identifying and designing solutions to address root causes of workplace health, safety, and well-being concerns. This case study describes how HWPP tools were used in a healthcare organization to enhance a Lean initiative for improving safe patient handling equipment and practices. The materials highlighted in this case study can be downloaded from the HWPP-Lean page.

Problem and Setting

2 tertiary-care hospitals in Massachusetts were following a Lean process to mitigate patient handling injuries among nursing staff. The project leaders needed better involvement of front-line staff and a procedure to facilitate the Lean “Plan-Do-Study-Act” (PDSA) cycle for improved safe patient handling (SPH). The HWPP tools were used to address these gaps.

What They Did

The SPH project team learned about the IDEAS process for building integrated interventions and participated in HWPP Facilitator Training to become more skillful when leading meetings. Lean SPH project leaders used the HWPP- Lean flow diagram (below) to map the connections between HWPP and their Lean process activities.

Project leaders considered their needs for a team structure that maximized front-line staff participation from multiple departments in the organization-wide initiative. They used the HWPP Team Formation models (at right) to establish a Steering Committee of senior leaders and four Design Teams of front-line workers and middle-level managers (see organizational chart). They used the Terms of Reference (see HWPP-Lean page) to introduce the HWPP and the roles and responsibilities of each team. The Infrastructure Design Team used the HWPP "Lean version" worksheets (below) to implement and document the seven-step IDEAS process as they developed specific equipment improvements for the SPH Lean initiative.

Program Impact

The Infrastructure Design Team proposed special patient lift equipment to reduce physical injury risks to nurses when caring for patients who are extremely heavy. As a result, the Steering Committee agreed to allocate funds to implement at least one bariatric ceiling lift in every hospital unit.

The Design Team used the HWPP’s proposal presentation template (below) to present equipment-related countermeasures to prevent injuries to the Steering Committee for approval and implementation.

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Participation by the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW) does not imply endorsement by HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). CPH-NEW was supported by Grant Number 1 U19 OH012299 from the NIOSH.