Manual Handling Walking & Controlling a Fall

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First Aid Classes – Manual Handling – Walking & Controlling a Fall

Manual Handling Walking & Controlling a FallManual Handling is an important topic of Health & Safety not just in First Aid Classes, but in many workplaces, particularly those involving handling heavy objects.

As with handling heavy objects, workplace approved Training states you must be aware that assisting or moving a patient can also pose significant risk of harm to yourself or others assisting you if incorrect techniques are used.

There is also a risk that you could also cause the patient harm, or worsen the injuries they may already have.

You should enlist the help of others if possible, and work together as a team using the best method to move any patient. But remember, if the patient is not in any danger, then it is best to treat them in the position you find them if possible.

However, if you do need to move the patient, follow these guidelines from the workplace approved First Aid manual. For the reassurance and comfort of the patient, always explain what you are going to do and encourage them to cooperate. It is also useful to appoint a leader to coordinate the process and organise the team.

You should also position yourself as close as possible to the casualties body, and place your feet shoulder-width apart so you have a stable base to keep well-balanced. Always keep a good posture during the move, and use smooth movements getting your power from your biggest muscles in your legs and arms.

If your patient is conscious and able to walk, you can provide support for them by standing at their injured or weaker side. Hold their hand using a palm to palm thumb grip with your hand on the bottom and holding their arm out slightly in front of them. You can then use your free arm to wrap around their waist for extra support. Take small steps together at the same time, walking at the pace that your patient sets.

If your patient is about to fall, it may be a reflex for us to try to catch them or hold them up but this can cause bad injury. Instead, First Aid Classes demonstrate how to control a fall to assist the patient gently to the ground without risk to either of you. St Mark James First Aid manual gives a step by step guide on how to do this:

    • Move behind the patient as quickly as possible and put your arms around them to direct their fall
    • Ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly in front of the other and your knees slightly bent so you are stable. Allow the patients’ weight to fall back against you but don’t support them
  • Keep your posture upright and allow the patient to slide down your body to a sitting position on the floor. Let them rest against your legs
  • You can then kneel down next to or behind the patient and adjust their position to make them as comfortable as possible.

Remember, always provide reassurance to the patient during any of these procedures.



First Aid Manual (The Authorised Manual of St. John Ambulance, St Andrew’s Ambulance Association and the British workplace approved), 2006.

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