If you have a job that includes looking after someone with an illness or a disability, you might need to help them move around. This could be a job like a nurse or a personal carer for someone who has a disability.
It is very important for you to know about safe handling procedures so that you don’t hurt them while you are moving them – or hurt yourself. Also, you will need to learn how to lift and move the person in a respectful way so that their dignity is preserved.
For example, if you are providing care for a disabled person, you might need to help them to get out of bed or into bed – or turn over in their bed. Also, they might need assistance to bathe or shower and to use the toilet. Your job might also include helping them to get into a chair, assisting them with standing, lifting them up off the floor after a fall or getting in and out of their vehicle. You will need proper training in order to do this safely and respectfully.
How do Injuries Occur With Manual Handling?
One of the most common situations where manual handling injuries occur is when the worker experiences a back injury by lifting their patient incorrectly. Injuring your back can be very serious and it can limit your movement and your ability to perform your job. Also, back injuries can take a long time to heal.
Another human being is very heavy and a grown adult will usually weight at least 10 stone or more. Lifting them requires proper techniques and sometimes even assistance from another person or a lifting device.
Tips for Correct and Safe Manual Handling of People
If you need to lift or carry another person in your job, here are some very important tips to keep in mind:
- First of all, tell the person that you are moving them and make sure that they are comfortable with what is happening.
- Be realistic about your ability to lift someone. If they are very heavy, you might not be able to manage without hurting yourself or them. Find someone else who can help you.
- Always check to make sure that there are no obstacles in the way before you lift someone. Clear the area of anything that could be a potential hazard.
- Never lift someone above your shoulder height – this could be very unstable and dangerous.
- Make sure that your feet are stable when you are lifting someone and that you are wearing stable shoes with good grips on them.
- Always keep the weight as close to your body as possible and keep your back straight while bending your knees.
- Lift the person as slowly and smoothly as possible. It’s not a race – you want to do it safely rather than quickly.
- Think ahead to where you are going to place the person and make sure that the area is prepared for them.
- Avoid twisting your back or leaning sideways if your back is bent. It is always better to turn by moving your feet than by twisting your back and lifting at the same time.
- Be aware of the comfort of the person that you are lifting. Be careful not to pull on their hair, skin or clothes while you are lifting them.
These are just a few important tips to keep in mind whenever you are involved in the manual handling of another person.
Communication and Empathy is Important
Remember that it is a living human being that you are lifting, rather than a box of equipment in a factory. You will need to focus not only on your safety, but on their safety and dignity as well. This is why communication is so important. You will need to speak to the person that you are lifting, so that you can ensure that they are comfortable and that your actions are not harming them. You should communicate what you plan to do with them, so that they are not taken by surprise or scared while you are carrying or lifting them somewhere else.
If the person you are lifting expresses pain or discomfort, it is important to listen to what they are saying so that you can adjust your technique. All lifting should be done carefully and respectfully, with the needs of the person being cared for taken into consideration.
Requiring someone else to help you bathe or use the toilet can be embarrassing, so be patient and kind with the person you are caring for and do your best to make them feel comfortable. This is why empathy is a valuable skill in the job of a carer, because you will need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and treat them how you would like to be treated.
Using Lifting Equipment
Sometimes, it is not practical or possible to lift someone and the use of lifting equipment to assist you is required. This could be a hoist, a standing aid, a slide sheet or a transfer board. If you are using any of these types of equipment, keep in mind that they will bring with them their own health and safety considerations that will need to be taken into account. Make sure that you are trained in the correct use of this equipment and that it is always kept well maintained.
Receiving the Correct Health and Safety Training
All employees who perform manual handling of people must be given the correct health and safety training so that they can perform their job safely. Without training, the employee will not be aware of the risks and the correct procedures of lifting and carrying people and can seriously injure themselves or their patients.
There are a number of relevant health and safety courses related to this industry, which are offered in training centres throughout the country.