Moving  and Handling People – Good Practice Guidelines – December 2017

The Draft Moving and Handling guidelines are currently being finalised with the view to be implemented from December 2017.  Developed by Worksafe, they cover Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) duties and risk management for PCBUs in the health care industry and supersede the 2012 guidelines.  There are a range of factors noted in these which need to be taken into consideration for those building new facilities or doing refurbishment of existing facilities. There is also a raft of information on Bariatric Care which is an increasing part of the services being provided in residential care.

The draft guidelines include the following:

Please note that there is not a complete consensus on the criteria for classifying a person as bariatric based on weight or Body Mass Index (BMI). However some examples include those people:

– with a body weight greater than 140 kilograms.

– with a BMI greater than 40 (severely obese), or a BMI greater than 35 (obese) with co‑morbidities.

– with restricted mobility, or is immobile, owing to their size in terms of height and girth.

– whose weight exceeds, or appears to exceed, the identified safe working loads (SWLs).

Health risks for bariatric clients

People who have been bariatric for a considerable time face chronic and serious health conditions, many of which should be considered before moving or handling them. Health conditions to take into account include:

– skin excoriation

– rashes or ulcers in the deep tissue folds of the perineum, breast, legs and abdominal areas

– fungal infection

– bodily congestion, including causing the leaking of fluid from pores throughout the body, a state called diaphoresis, which makes the skin even more vulnerable to infections and tearing

– diabetes

– respiratory problems

– added stress to the joints, which may result in osteoarthritis.

Planning for bariatric clients:

The planning process for bariatric clients in order to reduce moving and handling risks should include:

– admission planning

– client assessment

– communication

– room preparation

– mobilisation plan

– equipment needs

– space and facility design considerations

– planning for discharge.

Facility and equipment needs for bariatric clients

Health care and other facilities providing care for bariatric clients need to provide adequate spaces for these clients. Some considerations could include:

– ramps and handrails at entrances

– bariatric wheelchairs

– that the facility’s main entrance has sufficient clearance

– adequate door clearance and weight capacity in lifts

It must be remembered that the above comes from a draft but as drafts often end up being very close to the finished document, I felt it timely to share this information. To read more on Health and Safety in the Workplace go here

Moving and Handling in residential age care

Moving and Handling and the Health and Safety Act

Thanks to Jessie Snowdon, Physiotherapist for contributing the below article – 


All managers will be acutely aware of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and the responsibilities of, and potential penalties, for PCBUs (persons conducting a business or undertaking).

The HSWA requires businesses to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers. This includes safe systems of work, equipment, training and monitoring the health of workers. These processes are all included in the policies and procedures designed specifically for residential aged care facilities by HCSL.

Within the residential care industry staff are exposed to significant hazards daily in terms of patient handling and manual handling for kitchen/laundry staff.  Moving and handling is a hazardous task – it is repetitive, can involve high force (heavy residents) and frequently involves awkward postures. The likelihood of injury for both care staff and residents is high and the consequences can be serious, meaning that moving and handling is a high risk activity.

When we consider moving and handling in this light, managers need to be confident that they have safe systems. Consider how each resident’s transfer abilities are assessed. How is this documented and communicated? How do you know you have the correct equipment on site and how do you ensure that you have enough equipment in order for staff to be able to access it when they need it?

Our experience shows that often if the equipment is not available many staff will do an unsafe transfer in order to save time.  How do you ensure new staff are competent prior to undertaking moving and handling tasks? How do you ensure that existing staff are up-skilled? How do you implement the New Zealand guidelines? And how do you monitor your systems, equipment and training? These are questions all managers should be able to answer.

On the Go Physio carries out Moving and Handling training in over 15 facilities in Canterbury and offer training to representatives from many others. We offer tailored packages which can include up-skilling your whole team, or training your own moving and handling trainers and assessors. We can review your training and orientation systems and assist in equipment trials. If you are interested in discussing your facilities requirements to help you ensure your staff, and resident’s, health and safety contact us here.

For residential care specific policies and procedures related to safe moving and handling, along with related forms for use, contact HCSL here.


Contributed by: Jessie Snowdon (Senior Physiotherapist and Director)

‘On the Go Physio Ltd’

PO Box 32 004, Christchurch 8147

Ph: 0800 000 856 or Mobile: 021 030 9061