The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy


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Manual handling

Avoid work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) by making sure you see CSP guidance on safe practice in manual and therapeutic handling.

Guidance on Manual Handling in Physiotherapy

The CSP has published the fourth edition of profession-specific guidance on manual handling for members to use

  • for the protection of their own health,
  • as good practice in the handling of others
  • to affirm competence in the delegation of manual handling tasks to others.

Guidance on Manual Handling in Physiotherapy is essential reading for all practising physiotherapists and support workers.

Physiotherapists are trusted to deliver high quality services and treat people with respect and care. There is an assumption that all CSP member practitioners understand the complex issues surrounding moving and handling people and they are often seen as experts within the healthcare community. But the report from the 2006 musculoskeletal survey undertaken by the CSP showed that too many members experience musculoskeletal injuries during their work.

This 2014 publication has built on earlier versions of the document, expanding original chapters and incorporating new sections to further inform and protect the membership on issues of manual handling. The research findings of the CSP's MSD report has been updated, the section on bariatric care in the generic and specialist environment expanded, and a new section on purchasing/commissioning of services introduced.

The revised publication should enable physiotherapy practitioners to practise and delegate safely in generic and specialist areas of patient care. Clear guidelines are identified for physiotherapists when either asking others to perform manual handling tasks or offering advice to others in the multi-disciplinary team. Emphasis is placed on the use and maintenance of appropriate equipment, ensuring suitably trained staff, and the vital role that management have in ensuring risk assessments are undertaken, recorded and acted upon.

The revised document is fully referenced and links to essential legislation, HCPC Standards and the CSP Code of professional values and behaviour, and high quality current evidence. Tools are provided to assist physiotherapists to make assessments of unavoidable, potentially hazardous manual handling that occurs as part of their work, and to document strategies for reducing risks. Legal tests of competence are explained and set into the context of physiotherapy practice.

The document also demonstrates an adapted Dreyfus model of skills acquisition to support managers and practitioners in understanding the process of developing competence in manual handling, from the basics through to becoming expert as an advanced practitioner. Standards are set for educational programmes and those delivering them, and the need for appropriate continuing professional development for all physiotherapists is supported by the guidance and tools within this publication.


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