Importance of assessing risks when moving and handling individuals

Importance of assessing risks when moving and handling individuals

It is important to assess health and safety risks when moving and handling an individual as you, your employer and others in the work setting all have an obligation to minimise risk and promote safe practice. Moving and handling refers to the handling of people. Manual handling applies to the physical movement of inanimate objects and loads, either by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling. But, moving and handling also takes into account the individual you are moving, and prioritises their dignity.

Why moving and handling needs a different approach

Moving and handling is more complex than manual handling as it involves moving people rather than inanimate objects. 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. Being trained minimises the risks of accidents and other hazards. 
  3. Risks can change over time so it is important to review and update assessments 

The Law

The Management of health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999,Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, the E.C. Directive 90/269 and the earlier Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 with regard to lifting/manual handling, all apply to all types of load, including people. The laws outline the employer’s responsibility for providing safe lifting conditions.

The key duties of the 1992 Manual Handling Regulations are: 

Employer’s duties:

  • Avoid the need for hazardous Moving and Handling Operations as far as is reasonably practicable
  • Assess remaining Moving and Handling operations
  • Reduce the risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Provide Moving and Handling training and equipment as necessary

Employees duties:

  • To make full and proper use of systems of work provided
  • Take reasonable care of yourself and others who may be affected by your acts or omissions
  • To cooperate with employers to ensure that statutory requirements are met
  • Not to interfere with or miss-use anything provided in the interests of health safety and welfare

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 incorporates everything you need to know.

You can find our Moving and Handling People course here