What are the basic Principles of Safe Moving and Handling? 

What are the basic Principles of Safe Moving and Handling? 

Moving and handling refers to the manual handling of people. Manual handling applies to the physical movement of inanimate objects and loads either by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling. The basic principles of safe moving and handling are generally the same as this, but crucially also takes into account the individual you are moving, and prioritises their dignity.

Why moving and handling needs a different approach

As it involves moving people rather than inanimate objects, moving and handling is more complex than manual handling. If your day consists of moving and handling people, you not only have to consider your own comfort and safety, but also that of the person you are moving, whilst also protecting their dignity.

Risk assessment makes moving and handling a safe practice as:

  1. It identifies hazards and minimises the chances of harm.
  2. It minimises the risks of accidents and other hazards.
  3. Risks can change over time.

Basic principles of safe moving and handling

There are certain factors you need to be aware of, that can present hazards when carrying out moving and handling. These are the load, the task, the environment and the individual.

The following simple steps will help manage these hazards:

  1. Think about the lift before you attempt it. Do you need additional lifting aids?
  2. How far is the lift distance? Can this be reduced?
  3. What is your route, are there any obstructions?
  4. What are you wearing, could anything catch or rip during the lift?
  5. How will you get a good grip on the load?
  6. Has the person carrying out the moving and handling had appropriate training to do so?
  7. Are you confident or do you need help?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on reasonable weight limits based on the lifting ability of an average fit male or female.

But, it is important to note that these guidelines assume that:

  • You can grasp the load easily with both hands
  • When you move a person you can adopt a stable body position
  • The activity is carried out in reasonable working conditions.

So, individual situations and capabilities still need to be taken into account. Everyone is different and has different levels of strength, fitness, and underlying medical conditions. This must always be considered and sometimes a task will have to be completed by more than one person. In this circumstance, other factors such as obscured vision and uneven distribution of weight need to be taken into account. 

Techniques and posture

The correct technique is of course, important to avoid injury.

To safely lift a load:

  • Place feet hip-width apart.
  • Grasp the load firmly
  • Use your leg muscles to lift the load into a standing position.

Whilst holding the load remember to:

  • Keep your back straight, avoiding twisting or bending
  • Hold your head up and face straight ahead
  • Keep the load hugged in close to the body

How do the Manual Handling Regulations affect you?

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires all employers to protect the health and safety of their employees and other people who might be affected by what they do. And according to the Management of health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a legal obligation to do so. It requires employers to assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees, in other words, carry out risk assessments.

Alongside these regulations, there is a requirement in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, that employers must specifically, also carry out a risk assessment on manual handling tasks.

Enforcement of legislation

Safe manual handling is a serious issue. The HSE and local authorities can and do enforce health and safety legislation. They are able to ensure compliance with the law with a range of responses to offences. Serious offences can even lead to prosecution.

Engage in Learning Moving and Handling Training

Our Moving and handling eLearning package is designed to raise awareness of the issues and best practice associated with moving and handling people.

You can find our Moving and Handling People course here