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Manual Handling Blog Series - Part Two

In the last manual handling blog, we looked at the spine, ways in which it can get injured and how to protect yourself. This time we will examine the general principles of safer handling. These principles are a good base whether you are handling inanimate objects or working with service users.

The four main principles

These four principles are a good place to start whenever you are moving or positioning something or someone. They are reflected in the legislation which we will look at later in the training series and really are common sense!


First of all, avoid manual handling as far as possible! If there is another way for the outcome to be achieved, which doesn’t involve moving and handling, then use it! This includes encouraging service users to continue to use their own abilities for as long as possible. Good for the service user and good for you.


You should always be assessing what you are going to do before you do it, whether this is crossing the road or using a manual hoist. Later in this series we will look at a model for assessing tasks. Do you have the correct equipment? Do you need another member of staff to assist?  Once you have assessed the manoeuvre you can…

Reduce the risk

Use the correct equipment, do all the checks you need to – such as the breaks, weight limit or date checked. Prepare the area you are working in, clear the path if you need to. Make sure you have planned what you are going to do. Nobody wants to run into a foreseeable issue halfway through hoisting someone onto a toilet!


A risk assessment should be reviewed on a regular basis, or when something changes, but you should also be risk assessing all the time. These ‘mini’ risk assessments mean that you are constantly reviewing what you are doing. You wouldn’t keep following a course, such as hoisting someone into a chair, if it became apparent something was going wrong. As an example, if you were lifting someone and the sling slipped so they weren’t safe you wouldn’t keep going because ‘you’ve started so you’ll finish!’ Review what you are doing as you are doing it.

The four main principles are reflected in the legislation which surrounds manual handling and should underpin your good practice as a whole. I’d like to add two more principles to the mix, which should go without saying but bear repeating – Common sense and communication! Think about what you are doing and communicate with those around you. Speak to and listen to your colleagues and service users.  Working with people is the most rewarding part of the job!


If you missed Part One of our Manual Handling Training, find it here

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