The Scottish Manual Handling Passport Scheme

The Scottish Manual Handling Passport Scheme (SMHPS) is an initiative designed to improve the standard and consistency of manual handling training / education and the systems (process/procedures) that underpin it within Health Boards and Local Authorities (LA) in Scotland.


1 Introduction

The Scottish Manual Handling Passport Scheme (SMHPS) is an initiative designed to improve the standard and consistency of manual handling training / education and the systems (process/procedures) that underpin it within Health Boards[1] and Local Authorities (LA) in Scotland.

It consists of three elements:

  • manual handling organisation
  • education, training and assessment, and
  • an audit tool and guidance with criteria for manual handling documentation.

The 'Passport' element of the scheme is the record used to confirm an employee's manual handling training /assessments. Employees can use it to provide evidence of manual handling training/competence when transferring to other departments/ organisations, thereby avoiding any unnecessary repeat training. (See sample document Appendix 1).

By implementing the guidance contained in this document, participating organisations can ensure that manual handling training and education is being provided to an acknowledged and consistent level.[2]

2 Target audience

The SMHPS is aimed at LA / NHS employers and managers with responsibility for manual handling. It will also be of use to others eg those who provide competent advice, deliver training, practise and receive training, etc, including:

  • manual handling practitioners / trainers ( those engaged specifically in an MH role)
  • health and safety professionals
  • employees.

Although developed for the public sector, private and voluntary organisations are encouraged to participate too. The Further / Higher Education sector, in designing courses to prepare the public sector workforce of the future, should also take cognisance of this guidance.

This latest version of the SMHPS replaces its predecessor,[3] launched in 2011, which applied to NHS Scotland only.

3 Context

Poor practice in manual handling - from moving equipment, laundry, catering, supplies, waste, refuse, etc to assisting people to move - causes over a third of all workplace injuries. Within Health Boards and Local Authorities it accounts for a significant number of working days lost.

Wherever possible, hazardous manual handling tasks should be avoided. If this is not possible, employers should assess the risks and put sensible health and safety measures in place eg lifting aids where necessary, to prevent injury.

Providing specific information, instruction and training on manual handling injury risks and prevention plays an important part in reducing the risk of injury.

Participation in the SMHPS is not mandatory. However, participation signifies an employer's commitment to educate their employees to a minimum level and sets a benchmark against which organisations can be measured. It will also help employers demonstrate compliance with the law and reduce the likelihood of litigation cases and complaints. Private and voluntary organisations, contracted to deliver services to participating LAs and Health Boards, will be expected to participate in the scheme as appropriate.

4 Aims of the SMHPS

These are:

  • To reduce manual handling injuries to employees and other people
  • To ensure consistency in manual handling education/training and assessment within participating organisations
  • To provide a mechanism whereby skills can be transferred between participating organisations
  • To minimise duplication within participating organisations
  • To provide guidelines for use in commissioning contracted services.

5 Definitions of terms used within this document

Manual Handling: Transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or by bodily force as well as postural loading from fixed working postures.

People / Person: The person being moved, including, patients, clients and service users.

Employee: Anybody working under direction of the employer.

Competence: "The combination of training, skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to perform a task safely. Other factors, such as attitude and physical ability, can also affect someone's competence."

Education: The imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning.

Training: The process of teaching or learning a skill or job.

6 Legal requirements[4]

The key health and safety legislation that applies to the SMHPS is summarised below. Implementing the management systems and guidance contained in this document represents a reasonably practicable way of meeting these legal requirements:

  • The Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 - requires employers to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to employees
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - management arrangements, training on recruitment, when risks change and repeated as appropriate
  • The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) (MHOR)- unavoidable hazardous manual handling (MH) operations assessed; risk of injury reduced; underlying risks recognised by employees; tasks, individual capability, load, environment, safe working systems and use of equipment considered
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) - employees trained in use, risks and precautions of work equipment
  • The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)- lifts planned/executed safely; supervised by competent people; systems for thorough examination and inspection of lifting equipment.

7 How to use this document

The SMHPS comprises the sections below. Participating organisations should implement the guidelines for each of these sections, as appropriate, to ensure that MH training / education is provided consistently.

  • Section 1 - Manual Handling Organisation - outlines management arrangements, essential pre-training requirements and competencies for roles involved in managing and implementing the education programme.
  • Section 2 - Manual Handling Education, Foundation Curriculum and Assessment- contains details of the SMHPS modular education and foundation training programme and guidance on continuing education and competency assessment.
  • Section 3 Manual Handling Documentation, divided into three parts:
    • Section 3A -An audit tool for use in the format provided
    • Section 3B -Guidance documents - contains guidance for developing a MH policy framework and competencies for MH roles
    • Section 3C - Minimum criteria for manual handling documents - provides criteria to use when developing documents (as Appendices) including a 'Passport' document.

8 Monitoring the implementation of the Scottish Manual Handling Passport Scheme

After the launch of the SMHPS, a new Scottish Manual Handling Passport Group will be formed. The Group will include representatives from LAs, NHS Boards and other stakeholders. Whilst its terms of reference will be confirmed in due course, its responsibilities are likely to include:

  • reviewing SMHPS uptake and promotion, as appropriate
  • ensuring the integrity of the SMHPS, by periodically reviewing its content, in line with legislation and current evidence based practice, and
  • arranging for the inclusion of new material (eg modules) and information, as required.



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