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Simple Principles of Safe Moving and Manual Handling

Thinking through each individual situation and applying the following
simple principles when moving and handling will enable you to maintain
health and safety whilst undertaking the task.

• Assessment of the task
A full and comprehensive assessment should be made of the task before undertaking the move. This assessment of all aspects of the task will enable you to identify risks and hazards and to problem solve to enable the undertaking of safe manoeuvres.

• Maintain a stable base
Position the feet slightly apart, with the lead foot pointing in the direction of movement.
Stability provided by positioning the feet in such a way will prevent loss of balance and falling or twisting during the manoeuvre. When moving and handling a client, for example from one bed to another, it may seem impossible to keep both feet on the floor to provide a stable base without over stretching. It is possible and the situation should be reassessed so as to ensure a stable base whilst undertaking the move. If this is difficult seek guidance from the in-house moving and handling trainer.

• Lower the centre of gravity
By bending or flexing the knees slightly, the centre of gravity will be lowered. This bending of the knees will not only help the posture to be more relaxed and less taut but also provide more stability.

• Keep the spine in line
The spine’s natural curves should be maintained in their normal position, often referred to as ‘in line’, to prevent the occurrence of injury during movement and handling activities. Keeping the spine ‘in line’ also means avoiding top-heavy postures and positions where the spine is twisted or
rotated at any point.

• Keep the load close to your body
Keeping the load close to the body reduces the strain/effort involved in the manoeuvre, by having the load closer to the centre of gravity. It increases efficiency of the movement. It reduces the likelihood of injury.

• Move your head up
Raising the head in an upward direction/movement when undertaking a move leads the body in its movement and helps maintain good posture throughout.

• Holds
Holds used should be relaxed palm-type holds or stroking. Grasping or direct holds should not be used. Using indirect holds allows the hold to be released should the manoeuvre be beyond one’s abilities and reduces the likelihood of injury. Stroking down clients’ limbs to aid in their movement is gentler for the client and they are less likely to respond by suddenly withdrawing the limb, which could result in one being jerked or injured.

• Remember individual capabilities
Remember to consider the individual capabilities of all concerned in the manoeuvre; this includes you and your colleagues as well as the client. Those who have had previous injuries, or pregnant women, may be at greater risk when moving and handling.

• Know the equipment
It is important to know not only what equipment is available, but also how to use it correctly and to its fullest potential. One should also be aware of the correct methods for sizing of slings/accessories to ensure these are used correctly. The maximum safe working load of all pieces of equipment used in the area should be known. Equipment should be well maintained and serviced regularly. Do not use if faulty and ensure that faulty equipment is labelled as such and reported immediately. All equipment should be checked at least annually and a record kept.

• Good communication
Good communication is important so that everyone involved in the manoeuvre is aware of what their responsibilities are in relation to the move, and when the manoeuvre is to take place. This will also help to ensure that the move is carried out at the correct time in an organized manner.
Communication with the client is also vital not only to ensure their co-operation but also to maintain their trust and confidence.

• Controlled manoeuvres
Remember that manoeuvres need to be controlled and taken in stages if necessary to avoid over-stretching for those undertaking the move and to avoid discomfort or fear for the client.

• Wear appropriate clothing and footwear
Wearing correctly fitting and appropriate clothing will enable free movement without being restricted. Correct footwear will ensure good stability and grip and thus prevent over-balancing or slipping.

• Avoid manual handling
Manual handling, that is, physically moving objects or persons, should be avoided if at all possible.

Remembering these principles and being able to apply them in the variety of movement and handling tasks undertaken both in the workplace and in everyday life will enable problem solving and the identification of safe solutions in respect of movement and handling.
Adopting these principles will provide a more flexible approach to manual handling than learning a specific move for a specific situation, where in real life other factors involved often make such specific manoeuvres learnt unsuitable or unachievable in the practice setting.
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