Moving and Handling FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions with reference to issues surrounding the moving and handling of People, Children and Inanimate Objects.

  1. What is manual handling?
  2. What are the possible hazards associated with undertaking people handling activities?
  3. How many employees are injured as a result of manual handling accidents and where is this information published?
  4. How can an organisation reduce the hazards associated with people/children handling?
  5. What should people handling training include?
  6. Which professional bodies recommend training as a means of reducing the risk of people handling injuries?
  7. What are the benefits of undertaking people/children handling training?
  8. Do you ALWAYS need at least two staff to operate a hoist? Is this a legal requirment?
  9. I have heard that handling belts/slings or turntables have been 'banned' - is this true?
  10. As part of my job I move clients on a daily basis. Are we supposed to have moving and handling training?
  11. How often do you have to undertake moving and handling training and how long should courses be?
  12. At what level are risk assessment skills taught?
  13. Do your moving and handling courses include emergency evacuation skills?
  14. When were some people handling moves classed as 'controversial' and by whom?
  15. Where I work I might also be expected to undertake inanimate object handling for kitchen staff, housekeeping staff and administrative staff. Will the People/Children handling Key Trainer's course enable me to do this as well?
  16. I work in a setting where we have young adults - which of your two courses People or Children would be most suitable for me?

Moving and Handling FAQs

  1. What is manual handling?

    Under Regulation 2 of the 'Manual Handling Operations Regulations (as amended), 1992' (MHOR, 1992) 'manual handling operations' are defined as the 'transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.' The 'load' in this respect could be an inanimate object, a person or an animal.

    In a nutshell then manual handling in the workplace is you shifting something whilst at work. UK legislation concerns itself with 'hazardous workplace manual handling'. Hazardous being anything that could cause harm. This type of handling is generally where the training, workplace supervision, risk assessments, equipment provision, etc focus on.

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  2. What are the possible hazards associated with undertaking people handling activities?

    The key hazard associated with undertaking people or children handling activities is that the move may go wrong. The handler may slip or trip, as may the person you are handling; alternatively either party may adopt, even momentarily, poor posture, for instance an awkward twist or overreach. Any of these events could result in a severe muscular-skeletal injury to the person or handler or both. Recovery from such an injury could take several months or even years to fully recover from. In some extreme cases, a full recovery never occurs.

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  3. How many employees are injured as a result of manual handling accidents and where is this information published?

    Annual Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics regularly indicate that large numbers (thousands) of staff across the health care services, social care sectors and education settings who experience injury and/or ill-health as a result of hazardous manual handling activities.

    The HSE statistics are published annually on their website www.hse.gov.uk usually around October/November. The statistics are quite detailed breaking them down into separate industries, types of injury, time off work etc. These can be reproduced for training purposes or to feature in your health and safety policies/procedures/audits or reports etc.

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  4. How can an organisation reduce the hazards associated with people/children handling?

    Client-based, holistic handling risk assessments and thorough company-wide handling policies/procedures are both required in order for an organisation to arrive at informed safer handling decisions.

    These decisions should take proper account of both the safety of employees and the needs and preferences of the people for whom they are moving and handling, and forms the basis of reducing the hazards associated with all handling activities in the workplace.

    Of course effective training and supervising of staff as well as provision of well-maintained equipment will all help to reduce the hazards also.

    Other factors have an impact as well including effective health surveillance of staff, good housekeeping at work sites and a robust clothing and footwear or uniform policy/procedure as well as many other considerations.

    Basically the reduction of hazards here is a multi-factor approach. No one solution is going to work in isolation.

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  5. What should people handling training include?

    Several relevant and professional bodies including the Royal College of Nursing, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, the College of Occupational Therapists, the National Back Exchange and the Health and Safety Executive in conjunction with other associations and professional bodies, have advised as to the content of people handling training.

    Generally, the advice given is that the practical skills of safer people moving and handling, including the key principles of human movement and the correct selection and safer use of handling aids, should be the key focus of the course content.

    However, the course theory content may also include the employer's and employees' legal responsibilities, ergonomic and risk assessment principles, back care, spinal mechanics and function and local policies and procedures including accident/incident reporting.

    Depending on the duration of the training, other subjects covered may include risk management skills, creating effective change and the use of assessment tools for practical techniques.

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  6. Which professional bodies recommend training as a means of reducing the risk of people handling injuries?

    The following professional organisations/bodies, among others, all offer information which recognises the benefits of effective and thorough people handling training;

    • The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
    • College of Occupational Therapists
    • The Health & Safety Executive
    • National Back Exchange
    • The Royal College of Nursing
    • Care Quality Commission (England), Care Inspectorate (Scotland), Care and Social Services Inspectorate (Wales)
    • The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
    • The Royal Society for the Prevention of Injuries

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  7. What are the benefits of undertaking people/children handling training?

    An effective training and supervision programme coupled with the use of appropriate handling aids should benefit all the staff and the persons being moved within an organisation.

    From the staff's point of view, heavy, back-breaking moving and handling tasks should reduce. Sickness and injury levels should also reduce, as should accident and incident levels.

    The employer will see better attendance, safer working practices, fewer accidents and incidents to process, and are less likely to have a legal claim made against them in court.

    The immediate benefit to the person being moved should be an improvement in the quality of their care. Most dependent individuals will appreciate being moved more safely and comfortably in a hoist. Others could be encouraged to be more independent with their mobility, and will benefit both physically and mentally, reducing the side effects associated with reduced mobility and contribute towards physical rehabilitation programmes.

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  8. Do you ALWAYS need at least two staff to operate a hoist? Is this a legal requirment?

    You do not necessarily always need two (or more) staff to operate a patient hoist safely UNLESS your own organisation's health and safety and/or manual handling policy specifies this and of course many do.

    UK workplace legislation does not make it a requirement to always operate a patient hoist with two members of staff. Legislation specifies this decision should be made by the risk assessor following a thorough assessment of all the key hazards and then detailed their findings in the individual client's assessment and/or care plan documentation.

    Of course many elderly and frail clients in particular would need two or more staff to assist them during a hoisting transfer as this remains a complex handling activity with a significant risk of high level harm should it go wrong.

    However at this moment in time it is not 'illegal' to hoist someone with just one handler. Check you organisations policy on this subject though before proceeding.

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  9. I have heard that handling belts/slings or turntables have been 'banned' - is this true?

    Very unlikely, unless your own organisation's policy states this. Rarely are any manual handling aids 'banned' they are, of course, inanimate and will not in themselves cause harm. The harm caused is by the handler/s and is often because of a lack of training and/or supervision in the equipment's safe use.

    However, such statements can take a life on of their own and a bit like a game of 'Chinese whispers' people hear a vague rumour that a particular client does not like using a handling belt perhaps, to handling belts can hurt a client if used incorrectly, to handling belts can cause harm, to handling belts are illegal! and these four statements started in the same place! you can see how these things can happen.

    These first three statements are not necessarily wrong but this is not the fault of the handling belt as such, it may be that it is being used incorrectly or being used for the wrong type of client.

    If you hear a rumour about a particular handling product causing problems then check the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency at www.mhra.gov.uk which is a government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe. If a particular handling aid has caused significant problems when being used it will be highlighted on this website. Otherwise we would suggest it may be a training and staff supervisory issue to ensure the equipment in question is being used as it should.

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  10. As part of my job I move clients on a daily basis. Are we supposed to have moving and handling training?

    The risk of injury from moving and handling activities will be increased where employees do not have information or training necessary to enable them to work safely. Under the 'Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974' (Section 2) and the 'Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, 2006' (Regulations 10 and 13). Employers are required to provide their employees with health and safety information and training. This should be supplemented as necessary, with more specific information and training on manual handling injury risks and prevention, as part of the steps to reduce risk required under Regulation 4 of the 'Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended).

    Client (people/children) moving and handling is defined in legislation as 'hazardous' therefore the need to properly manage this hazard is key to ensure the organisation is operating within the confines of the law. One key way to manage this is to provide training and instruction to staff to ensure they are working safely and reducing the hazards to the lowest level possible.

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  11. How often do you have to undertake moving and handling training and how long should courses be?

    Many professional bodies advise that people moving and handling training is undertaken every year. The duration of such training commonly varies between 3 to 12 hours each year often with the initial training or induction course being 6 hours plus. Organisations commonly detail the frequency and duration of this training in their policy/procedures on the subject.

    Load or inanimate object handling training tends to be conducted less frequently as the hazards are inherently less significant particularly within the care and education sectors. Training might be 3 to perhaps 6 hours in duration but most commonly undertaken every two or three years. Once again guidance on this may well be found in your organisations relevant policies/procedures.

    However, if you work in Wales or Scotland your organisation may be further governed by the Welsh and Scottish manual handling passports, check this out with your organisation as guidance on course duration's is detailed in these documents too.

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  12. At what level are risk assessment skills taught?

    On our 'Key Trainer' events we are teaching you risk assessments skills to a mid-range level, that is to say we feel certain that if you are successful on this event you will be able to participate in risk assessing to any situation up to a very complex scenario. More complex adult and children risk assessments should be undertaken by clinical professionals such as OTs, physios and nurses.

    Should you require more complex risk assessment skills then we are able to offer an additional day whereupon we will use the extra time to practice, using scenarios, complex risk assessment understanding and writing skills.
    Please call us on 01904 677853 for further information.

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  13. Do your moving and handling courses include emergency evacuation skills?

    Emergency evacuation skills training does not generally fall under the remit of 'moving and handling'. Whilst we recognise you have to move the person onto the evacuation aid - because you are doing this quickly (it is a life threatening situation after all!) to a certain degree the 'rules' of safer moving and handling do not apply. In some extreme circumstances you might have to manually lift a person to move them at speed and this is not taught on moving and handling training events - nor indeed is it practiced for obvious reasons.

    The real skills here are the safest use of the emergency evacuation aid that you have available to you. There are a wide variety on the market and each one is operated differently that is to say some wrap the feet/legs/arms, some fasten the feet/legs/arms, some aids you slide, others you roll on castors. Therefore we would advise the best people to train you in emergency evacuation skills are the suppliers/manufacturers of the particular aid/s you are using. These organisations often have videos that you can utilise for training purposes as it would be unsafe to use a person to practice on. Contact them directly for help and advice here - their contact details should be on the aids themselves.

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  14. When were some people handling moves classed as 'controversial' and by whom?

    With the publication of various editions of the 'Guide to the Handling of People' (BackCare) over the past 30 years a number of previously seen people handling moves were classed as 'controversial' or unsafe. These moves have been found to potentially cause serious harm to the client and/or to the handlers/care staff by a number of professionals contributing to these text books.

    Some of these moves were classed as unsafe as far back as 1981 - others later.

    Check out the latest edition of this text book for the most up-to-date information here.

    Further guidance should be sought from your organisations manual handling or health and safety policy/procedures as sometimes the use of these moves is permitted in life-threatening/emergency situations and you should be guided by their advice here.

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  15. Where I work I might also be expected to undertake inanimate object handling for kitchen staff, housekeeping staff and administrative staff. Will the People/Children handling Key Trainer's course enable me to do this as well?

    You will receive a good range of course materials including a number of images for practical load handling techniques which will enable you to train these members of staff as well as those undertaking people/children handling activities. Information about the key principles of biomechanics and risk assessment is given on our four day events and is also relevant to load handling of course.

    However, we are not able to assess you to undertake practical load handling techniques as part of a 'usual' four day course, we simply do not have the time within the confines of this already full course agenda (a five day event can be undertaken which does include assessment of load handling activities and will be reflected in your certificate from this event should you need this to a higher level. Contact us on 01904 677853 for further advice on this.)

    However, assuming that the training you are onward delivering is at a reasonably basic level we feel that you will have everything you would need to deliver such an event if you have successfully completed our four day course.

    You might commonly be expected to undertake just a half day (3 hour) training session for this group of staff. This half day session would usually involve 30 minutes or so of theory and 2 to 2.5 hours of practical skills.

    To assess staff effectively have a range of commonly moved inanimate loads available to demonstrate and train with. These might include boxes of 'stores' items, full laundry bags, hoovers, oxygen cylinders, sacks of vegetables, lunch trolleys/trays, medical notes and x-ray plates, items of furniture etc. These will all enable you to demonstrate safer and effective lifting and lowering, pushing and pulling as well as team handling all of which will help staff to work more safely when undertaking these tasks in the workplace.

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  16. I work in a setting where we have young adults - which of your two courses People or Children would be most suitable for me?

    Our "Children Handling and Risk Assessment Key Trainers Certificate" and the associated Refresher/Update event cover handling the young adult as well as smaller children. This course tends to focus on the 3 to 19 age group. Many of our delegates come from "special need" schools where they might have pupils with this age range. However, you might also want to consider our people handling key trainer courses as many teenagers have adult dimensions and would therefore be handled in the same way. If you attend this course we can give you a set of the course materials for children handling too on request - it really depends on the dimensions of the young adults you are handling as to whether you feel they are more adult or children.

    You are very welcome to call us on 01904 677853 to discuss this further.

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