The common-sense approach to moving and handling of disabled children and young people

This guide offers a practical approach to the assessment of risk in relation to the moving and handling of disabled children and young people.

Assessing Risk

Health and safety law requires employers to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. To do so you must consider:

  • The moving and handling task, postures, frequency, weight etc
  • The environment
  • The equipment
  • The individual child or young person's needs
  • The workers involved.

The risk assessment should consider risks to the child or young person being supported, risks to the worker(s) assisting them, and risks to others who may be affected by the activity.

Risk assessment should involve the workers and the child or young person and their family and take into account their wishes and feelings. All considerations should take into account the emotional, psychological and social impact on the child or young person.

The manual handling operations regulations [5] do not prohibit all manual handling.

The Regulations require that moving and handling is done as safely as possible, where it cannot be avoided [5] .

Action should be appropriate and proportionate to ensure that the child's rights are safe guarded when they are being supported with their moving
and handling needs.

Workers should not be required to perform tasks that put them and the children and young people they care for at unacceptable risk [5] , [6] , [7] .

Children and young people should actively contribute to their own risk assessment/ care plan through discussion with workers about:

  • How they wish to be physically moved
  • What they feel most comfortable with in terms of moving and handling
  • How they can actively participate in managing their own care on a daily basis
  • What activities they want or need to participate in, and where these take place
  • How they can appropriately maximise their physical ability in order to avoid early dependence on equipment and support aids
  • How they could/would be moved in the case of an emergency, for example in the case of a fire or if the child were to have a seizure in the pool.

Disabled children and young people can expect that their workers are familiar with their moving and handling needs, and are suitably trained in using relevant equipment to support them, thus enabling them to take a full part in a wider social experience.

The Scottish Government policy on children and young people, as set out in the "Getting it right for every child" approach, is to improve their individual well-being so that they are as safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included [9] as possible.

In addition, children and young people are entitled to be supported to make progress with their social, emotional and mental well-being through reference to those experiences and outcomes within health and well-being in the Curriculum for Excellence.

Your responsibility as a worker [5] , [7] is to:

  • Follow the child's or young person's individual risk assessment recommendations and use the equipment provided
  • Co-operate with your employer and let them know of any problems
  • Take reasonable care to ensure that your actions do not put you or others at risk
  • Think about how the child/young person's wellbeing can be improved [3] .

Your responsibility as an employer is to ensure [5] , [7] , [12] the safety of your employees and others affected by their work by:

  • Ensuring that risk assessments are carried out by employees (and supported by staff in other agencies when applicable) who have had the relevant training and who understand the individual child or young person's needs
  • Avoiding those moving and handling tasks that could result in injury, where reasonably practicable [8]
  • Assessing the risks from moving and handling that cannot be avoided
  • Putting measures in place to reduce the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable [8]
  • Making sure that any lifting equipment used to move and handle children and young people is properly maintained and thoroughly examined every
    six months or in accordance with a written scheme of thorough examination [12]
  • Ensuring that the moving and handling equipment, including slings and other accessories, is visually inspected prior to each use according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The judgement referenced at 8 would not be strictly binding in Scottish law but the case concerns health and safety law and human rights which apply UK wide.

Children and young people with daily moving and handling needs at home, in education or in the community must have their human rights carefully balanced with those of their workers. Through the proportionate and common-sense application of risk management proposed in this approach, both parties' rights will be safeguarded and the health, safety and welfare of the children and young people and those responsible for their care will be protected.

Children and young people must not have their learning and social experiences limited by moving and handling barriers, but should be supported through improvements in their well-being to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens [9] .

Capability Scotland
September 2012


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