The 7kg Surgical Instrument Crate Weight Project

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) Board of Directors; the Perioperative Nurses College (PNC) of NZNO; and the New Zealand Sterile Services Association (NZSSA) have recently endorsed a maximum 7kg surgical instrument crate weight limit.

In hospitals throughout NZ staff are trained to identify and manage manual handling risks. However in the surgical setting the increasing weight of instrument sets has not been formally addressed nationally until now. A surgical set starts at a certain weight, but as surgeons have individual requirements added, it becomes steadily heavier. There is a tendency by the industry to add these ‘additions’ to the existing trays ad hoc instead of providing an extra tray.

In 2011-2013 a Canterbury PNC working party along with representatives from NZSSA reviewed the issues. Their findings and recommendations are published in the paper by Guy, 2013, which is attached. The working party found around one third of surgical crates weighed a lot more than the 7kg limit described in the Australian College of Operating Room Nurses (ACORN) standards. Given that lifting surgical crates is not a one off movement, and usually involves a twisting movement, this poses serious health risks for perioperative staff around injury and energy levels. 

This webpage provides information for members on the ongoing project and will continue to be updated as the change rolls out across NZ surgical settings, with a deadline of 2016.

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