Manual handling training

Dr Jane Renehan of Dental Compliance Ltd reminds dentists to include a manual handling policy in their safety statement. Practice owners are required to risk assess each employee’s work activity to determine if its characteristics or ergonomic conditions involve risk, particularly of back injury. Consequently, clinical staff will require training in patient moving and handling, while administration staff may require training in handling of inanimate objects.
Regarding training, Jane advises that the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work (Regulations 2007) make it clear that manual handling training is not mandatory for all staff, but where there is a risk of injury the employer needs to act. One-third of all workplace injuries reported to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) are caused by manual handling activities.
The HSA recommends engaging a recognised training provider and providing refresher training at least every three years. Jane recommends, where possible, that training be carried out in the workplace, and specific to the tasks involved. All dental environments involve some form of manual handling, including lifting, pushing or pulling a load, either an inanimate object or a person. Activities posing an injury risk include:

  • manoeuvring certain patients such as small children, pregnant or elderly persons, persons with restricted mobility or sight impairment, and weighty or sedated patients; and,
  • moving inanimate objects, for example heavy containers of chemicals, objects of an awkward size or shape such as large bags of waste, and lifting objects from heights or off the ground, for instance boxes of dental records.

Working within a restricted space is commonplace for dentists. When additional limiting factors such as PPE, pregnancy, previous neck or back injury, or patients with behaviour management issues are superimposed, this increases the risk of injury.
For information on mandated health and safety training in dentistry, contact