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Explain principles and demonstrate how to move and handle equipment and other objects safely

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2023 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

As a health and social care worker, you should be able to explain and demonstrate safe moving and handling.

Moving and handling can refer to:

  • Objects (e.g. carrying a cardboard box to the storeroom etc.)
  • Equipment (e.g. operating a wheelchair etc.)
  • Individuals (e.g. assisting a seated individual to stand etc.)

NOTE: the terms ‘moving’ and ‘lifting’ are outdated when referring to individuals. More respectful, dignified and professional terms are ‘transferring’ and ‘repositioning’ when assisting individuals with movement.

Training and Adherance to Relevant Paperwork

Some tasks you should only perform if you have had sufficient training to ensure the safety of yourself and others – this is particularly relevant when referring to transferring and repositioning individuals. Such tasks might involve the use of equipment such as hoists or slings to assist individuals with transferring and repositioning. These should be performed in strict adherence to the individual’s care plan and risk assessments to ensure that their needs and wishes are met in a safe and dignified manner. You should also ensure that you follow your employer’s documented procedures and agreed ways of working as well as the manufacturer’s instructions for any equipment used.

Safety Checks

Before using a piece of equipment, you should perform safety checks to ensure it is in good working order as described by your employer’s agreed ways of working and the manufacturer’s guidelines. You should ensure that the equipment will only be used for its intended purpose and that warning signs are acknowledged – for example, lifting equipment will have labels specifying their maximum load in Kilograms. In addition, you should make sure equipment is clean before use – in particular, equipment that is shared between multiple individuals should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each use to reduce the risk of infection.

Recording & Reporting

Any faults found with equipment during safety checks should be recorded and reported to your manager immediately to ensure that they can be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. You should not use defective equipment and your manager should arrange for it to be removed or labelled as defective until it is safe to use again.


You should always plan before moving a load. Think about where you are moving it to and ensure there is enough space and a clear route. For example, if you are lifting a box onto a table, make sure that the table is clear first. If you are carrying an object from one area to another, ensure there is no clutter or other hazards along the route. The five key components of a manual handling assessment can be remembered with the acronym TILEO:

  • Task – is it a pushing/pulling/carrying/lifting task? Where from and to?
  • Individual – who will be carrying out the task? Do they have medical conditions? Are they pregnant? Could someone else do the task? Not everyone will have the same capabilities with a manual handling task.
  • Load – what is the weight/size of the load? Is the weight evenly distributed? Is it sharp/slippy/hot/cold?
  • Environment – Are there space constraints? Hazards? Poor lighting? Uneven flooring? Are there stairs/steps?
  • Other – Will lifting equipment be used? Is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required?

For regular or risky moving and handling activities, your employer must perform and document a risk assessment to describe what the risks are and how they can be reduced or eliminated. It is important that you read and adhere to them.

Performing Manual Handling Tasks

Be realistic about your own capabilities. Assess the weight of the object and never try to carry something that is too heavy or too bulky for you to transport safely. Enlist the help of others or use lifting/carrying equipment (if you have been trained how to use them). Before lifting, adopt a stable position with your feet about shoulder-width apart and one foot slightly forward to maintain balance. Do not bend your back or twist/stoop. Bend your legs and lift from the knees. Where possible lift and lower from and to waist level (e,g, from a table) rather than floor level or above shoulder height.

Communication is a key component of safe moving and handling. As well as communicating with your co-workers, it is essential that you communicate with the individuals that you are assisting so that are aware of what is happening. Poor communication can make a task unsafe, even if all other components are performed well.

Safety First!

Do not attempt to perform any manual handling activities that you feel are unsafe. When in doubt, always seek assistance from your manager. Your primary responsibility is to work in a way that maintains the safety of yourself, your colleagues, the individuals you support and the wider public.

Example question and answer

You have been asked to prepare three handouts for new staff attending an induction. The handouts are to provide information on the following topics.

Hand out 1 – Moving and handling

This handout must include:

Ci   A description of the main points of health and safety legislation that relates to moving and handling.

Cii Explanations of:
a) How following principles for safe moving and handling protects those in social care setting from injury or harm.
b) The consequences of not following an individual’s care plan or engaging with them when assisting moving and handling.
c) Situations that may require additional supports necessary for safer moving and handling.

MOVING & HANDLING for Inductees

This handout provides information to new staff about the importance of moving and handling correctly.


As well as the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, there is additional legislation governing moving and handling.

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992/2002 explains how to avoid, assess and reduce the risk of injury from manual handling.

The Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 is a code of practice that applies to the use of lifting equipment.


The purpose of this legislation together with company policies is to protect everybody from harm or injury that could be caused by incorrect moving and handling.

By following the principles of safe moving and handling you will minimise the risk of injury, be able to identify potential hazards and work with others to develop safer ways of working, which will protect everybody in your setting. You will also be able to identify areas where you or others may need additional training, such as how to use a piece of equipment safely.


If you do not follow an individual’s care plan or do not engage with them when assisting with moving and handling, you could cause harm or injury to them or yourself. This could also lead to disciplinary action, dismissal or legal action.

Their care plan has been meticulously written to ensure that procedures are carried out in the safest way possible and cutting corners increase the risk of harm.

If you do not work in partnership with the individual in assisted moving/handling, they will not know what it is that you are doing and what they can do to help. It can also cause them anxiety. All individuals have the right to be involved in all aspects of their care and to have their needs and preferences respected. Failure to do so can result in a breakdown of the relationship you have with them and their refusal to work with you as well as it being against the law.

Additional Support

Certain situations may require additional support for moving and handling from others or from equipment.

Some items may be too heavy to move easily or too bulky, awkward or unstable.

The environment may be cramped or have insufficient room to manoeuvre.

You may not have the correct equipment, the equipment may not work correctly or you have not had the training to use the equipment.

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