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Manual handling in healthcare – preventing injuries due to lifting

If you work in the health care industry you may need a manual handling certificate. A manual handling course provides employees with the knowledge required to prevent injuries due to manual handling. Many organisations have introduced ‘minimal lifting’ or ‘no lifting’ approaches as a part of their manual handling risk management, which also involves manual handling training. This type of approach focuses on the use of equipment to reduce injuries caused by patient lifting and other patient handling. The provision of manual handling equipment and aids is a risk control measure that attempts to control risks at their source.

This approach involves:

  1. consulting with staff in the trial and purchase of manual handling equipment
  2. providing appropriate lifting aids and equipment to assist staff in moving/transferring patients
  3. manual handling training of staff in the correct use of the aids and equipment, in manual handling
  4. techniques and in patient assessment
  5. assessing patients to determine their specific manual handling needs and standardising the method of handling
  6. encouraging appropriate patient mobility and independence
  7. prohibiting manual lifting (including team lifting) except in emergencies;
  8. providing adequate levels of appropriately skilled staff
  9. enforcing the use of equipment through supervision and post- manual handling training support.

Manual handling training provides advice on the principles of the minimal lifting approach. It assumes your organisation already has policies and programs supporting the implementation of risk management strategies.

Nursing unions have introduced no-lift policies from about 1997. Ideally, all facilities would follow a ‘no lifting’ policy, where lifting is eliminated or minimised. Any handling which involves manually lifting the whole or a substantial part of the resident’s weight is avoided. Facilities implementing ‘no-lift’ policies have drastically reduced their manual handling injuries.

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