Why is lifting people different to lifting objects?

Why is lifting people different to lifting objects?

Posted on Apr 19, 2017

Why is lifting people different to lifting objects?


Many of us, in all sorts of different workplaces and environments, need to do a certain amount of lifting, carrying, pushing, and moving.

Often this involves inanimate objects. But there are some job roles that will require people to lift, carry and move other people. For example, healthcare workers, social care workers, nurses, porters, nursing home staff, ambulance staff, and nursery workers.

Amongst these professions that require employees to lift and carry people, musculoskeletal disorders (things like back injuries and shoulder strains) are a serious problem.

But if more people were aware of how to properly lift and reposition a person, and they felt confident in doing so, then these injuries and problems would be reduced.


So how is it any different to lifting and handling objects?

Well, humans aren’t really designed to be easy-to-lift.

We’re heavy and bulky.

We don’t have handles.

And we need to be comfortable.

People who need lifting often have complex needs.

Many of the handling activities involve the person being an awkward position.

And of course, people cannot be lifted like objects, they cannot be held close to the body, and they can move unpredictably.


Ok that makes sense, so what should I be doing differently?

Well, when it comes to manual handling a lot of the work happens before you even start. To decide the best way to lift, a risk assessment will need to be conducted.


What’s involved with a risk assessment?

Risk assessments have a bad reputation, but really, they are very simple.

It’s the basic process of taking a look at the handling activities that will need to be conducted, identifying what risks they pose, and what can be done to prevent these risks from causing harm.

Generally, a manual risk assessment considers 4 things: task, individual, load and environment. You can remember this with the acronym ‘TILE’.



Does the manual handling task include any twisting, stooping, bending, pushing, pulling or sudden movement?



Is the person completing the task pregnant, disabled or suffering from health problems?



Is the load heavy, difficult to grip, sharp, hot, cold or unstable?



Within the environment, are there space constraints, uneven or slippery flooring, unstable flooring, different floor levels, hot, cold or humid conditions?


Sounds like a lot of effort, wouldn’t it be easier just to ban all lifting?

Well, when considering manual handling activities that involve people, the needs, safety and rights of the people who are being lifted need to be balanced with the needs, safety and rights of the people who are doing the lifting.

For example, in a care home it would completely eliminate risks to avoid handling activities all together, but this does not consider the rights and needs of the service-users.

So, it is not possible just to ban all lifting in these situations.

And anyway, once you get into the swing of TILE, it’ll become second-nature!


Get trained

If lifting and moving people is part of your work, then it’s important that you are properly trained.

When you subscribe with flick you get access to all flick courses as well as manual handling: safe lifting of adults.


Related articles

Moving and Handling Moving and Handling

What's needed in a first aid kit  How often do I need to do manual handling training?

How to carry out a manual handling risk assessment [Whitepaper] How to carry out a manual handling risk assessment [Whitepaper]

Why is lifting children any different from lifting adults? Why is lifting children any different from lifting adults?


Related courses

manual handling - safe lifting of adults manual handling - safe lifting of adults

manual handling - safe lifting of children manual handling - safe lifting of children

manual handling online training manual handling training

manual handling training for managers manual handling training course for managers





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