Manual handling

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Areas of investigation

1. Familiarise yourself with equipment needed for patient handling

The need for manual handling should be avoided where reasonably practicable, and the risk reduced when manual handling cannot be avoided. In general, manual handling should be minimised to the greatest extent possible.

One of the way of reducing the risks associated with manual handling include providing mechanical aids. Well maintained handling aids should be available, for example, rolling and sliding devices should be used in order to minimise supporting, pushing and pulling. Other types of equipment are:

- wheelchairs

- hoists both mechanical and electrical

- sliding equipment

- Turntables

- handling slings

2. Demonstrate an awareness of the size of the problem in patient handling either at home or in care. Demonstrate an understanding of needs for handling the elderly.

Back pain affects about 80% of the population in Western countries and sadly the indications are that it would seem to be on the increase. Why is this ? With advanced technology and improvements in working methods, we should expect to have fewer physical complaints . This is not so.

Manual handling injuries are the greatest cause of lost time at work. Very significant number of accidents at work (around 20%) are related to handling and lifting.

There are many health and safety problems in hospitals which regularly and unnecessarily affect staff. Few of the common problems are related to manual handling and lifting. For instance, lifting of patients is well known to cause back injuries. The precautions should be taken in order to minimise this problem. The law requires lifting of patients should be minimised, and where it is not possible, adequate aids and training must be provided. Back injuries caused by lifting of patients is just one of the major problems known to occur in hospitals.

3. Identify the training required by staff


Training must be implemented using a top down approach:

- policy makers must appreciate the significance of safe patient handling

- newly trained personnel must be supervised

- records of staff trained must be kept

Does the job require special information or training for its safe performance (individual capacity)


- training should be tailored to the needs of the departments

- delays in training should be avoided

- training should include classroom tuition, practical demonstrations and workplace


- the law

- basic information on the anatomy and biomechanics and how injuries take place

- instruction on personal fitness

- an introduction to the practical handling policy

- an ability to carry out assessments

- practical application of a minimal handling policy

- The use of lifting aids and the instruction on the frequency of maintenance

- suitable clothing and footwear

- Ensuring passageways, floors and lighting allow safe patient handling

- problem solving

4. Identify any risks or hazards that may arise, to care and client.

What are the risks to health in hospital ? Care workers can be at risk from back strain. Lifting or moving a patient can cause serious back injury if he is too heavy. In this case the carer should try to have a helper or mechanical aid available.

Risk reduction action plan

- bringing services/ equipment to the client instead of vice versa

- using a team approach e.g. two staff members working together

- providing specialist equipment

For example, the back should be protected from strain.

*Who is at risk

Anyone whose work involves handling patients with temporary or permanent mobility problems.

Risk of sudden movement of loads

1.The working environment

2.Uneven, slippery or unstable floors,

3.Variations in level of floors or work surfaces

When considering moving a load, make sure the route is...
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