Smedley, J., Poole, J., Waclawski, E., Harrison, J., Stevens, A., Buckle, P. and Coggon, D.
Manual handling risk controls in hospitals (MARCH): a cross-sectional survey of UK hospitals
Health Services Management Research, 17, (2), . (doi:10.1258/095148404323043145).
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Injury and ill health among healthcare staff associated with handling patients is an important area of risk for UK National Health Service (NHS) employers. Since the introduction of a specific legal duty to control this risk in 1992, many Trusts have developed manual handling risk management strategies. Anecdotally, however, practice varies between Trusts and there is no published description of common practice among NHS employers. The latter would be useful as a benchmark for risk managers. Therefore, we undertook a cross-sectional survey of 158 UK trusts (81% of those invited) using a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire to collect information about manual handling risk controls. Most Trusts had basic systems for risk management, including defined management accountability, written policies, provision of handling equipment, training, expert advice about manual handling and access to occupational health services and physiotherapy for injured employees. However, there was wide variation in important aspects, including the extent of expert manpower and criteria for referral to occupational health. Arrangements for monitoring risk controls were generally poor, and the variation in practice was a cause for concern. These data will help NHS employers by providing a benchmark against which to measure and develop risk management systems for manual handling. Future research should aim to develop standards through consensus opinion and ultimately evidence of effectiveness of risk controls.
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