Evaluation of a ward-based risk assessment manual handling program on workplace practice

Professor Nicholas Taylor2,3, Ms Helen Kugler1,2, Dr Natasha  Brusco1,2

1Centre for Allied Health Research and Education, Cabrini Health, Malvern, Australia, 2La Trobe Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine Research, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, 3Allied Health Clinical Research Office, Eastern Health, Box Hill, Australia


To evaluate transfer of manual handling skillset into the workplace following participation in manual handling training, and the effect on staff injuries and patient falls.

Staff (n=72) across two pilot wards participated in a full-day manual handling education program led by allied health as a part of local mandatory training. Training included two sessions, Manual Handling Fundamentals and Risk Assessment for Moving Patients (RAMP). Clinical observations audits were conducted on both pilot wards to observe staff engaging in patient transfers. Observations were conducted prior to, immediately following and at 6 months following training. Staff musculoskeletal injuries and patient falls was measured in the 6-month period following training and compared to pre-training periods.

From a total of 156 observations, ‘standing up’ was the most common transfer component. Following training, there was an increased consideration of the components of risk assessment, staff positioned themselves safely more often and were better able to educate the patient to participate in the transfer. These improvements were sustained at 6 months. There were no changes in staff musculoskeletal injuries or patient falls.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
An allied health led program was successful in improving the manual handling skills of ward-based staff. No short-term changes were observed in staff injuries or patient falls. Longer-term studies on larger samples would determine if the positive changes in manual handling skills results in fewer staff injuries or patient falls.


Nicholas Taylor is Professor of Allied Health at La Trobe University and Eastern Health. He leads the Allied Health Clinical Research Office at Eastern Health. His research focuses on improving rehabilitation outcomes.