Moving and Assisting training for Volunteers

Please read the training material below and then go back to the previous page.

Session Overview

Learning Objectives

  • Identify an organisation’s responsibilities for promoting a safe environment including best moving and assisting practices
  • Explain your responsibilities for ensuring best moving and assisting practices
  • Identify risk factors that may cause injury
  • Demonstrate the correct posture for safe moving and assisting practices
  • Describe the importance of good back care
  • Explain the importance of good communication and a team approach

Volunteer Responsibilities

Moving and assisting can be a frequent activity for many volunteers. As a volunteer, it is your responsibility to understand how to move and assist people and objects safely.

Throughout this session we will refer to the term ‘moving and assisting’; however, you may be more familiar with the term ‘moving and handling’. We think there is an important difference and, as a volunteer, you should only be expected to assist people rather than be responsible for actual handling tasks, for example, using specialist equipment to help get someone out of bed.

It is important to be able to identify situations where you should not carry out specific tasks, unless you have had specialist training. If in doubt, ask your Manager.

If, as part of your volunteering role, it has been agreed that you will be involved in moving and handling, your organisation must provide appropriate and relevant training.

Some of the tasks you, as a volunteer, may need to assist someone with include:

  • Sitting in a chair
  • Standing
  • Walking
  • Getting in and out of a vehicle

You need to make sure that you and the person that you are helping are safe, so it is very important that you know about safe moving and assisting in order not to hurt yourself or the person you are looking after.

Law Relating to Moving and Handling

Organisations have a legal obligation to abide by the:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

The aim is to protect everyone.

Responsibilities of the Organisation

Avoid moving and assisting activities if there is a risk of injury.

Assess moving and assisting activities if they cannot be avoided.

Reduce the risk of injury to volunteers as far as reasonably practicable

Review risk assessments regularly.

What actions are organisations required to do promote a safer workplace for volunteers?

Organisational policies and guidance – Implement and make available organisational policies and guidance.

Specialist roles – Introduce specialist roles to lead and coordinate systems and procedures, for example moving and assisting advisors.

Risk assessments – Undertake risk assessments, monitor, complete regular audits, act upon findings and ensure that they are shared.

Training and guidance – Provide volunteers with training and guidance.

Specialist equipment – Provide specialist equipment to support safer moving and handling activities. Volunteers will not be required to use specialist equipment without suitable training and supervision.

Support services – Provide support services, for example Occupational Health.

Responsibilities of the Volunteer

You have responsibilities to:

  • Be aware of, and understand your organisation’s moving and assisting policy
  • Use equipment provided properly but only if trained to do so
  • Not misuse or interfere with equipment provided for your safety
  • Cooperate with your organisation on moving and assisting matters
  • Tell your organisation if you identify hazardous activities or defects in equipment
  • Make sure your actions, or lack of them, don’t put yourself and others at risk

Injuries and Healthy Back Care

Moving and handling is defined as:

 …any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.

A load is defined as an object, a person or an animal 

The most common injuries are back injuries. Injuring your back will limit your movement and your ability to care for someone. It could take a long time for you to recover. Lifting incorrectly can also cause other injuries.

If you do not know how to lift or move an object or person correctly, please do not do so.

Healthy Back Care

The spine consists of the elements shown in the diagram.

Ensuring good musculoskeletal health is essential to enable safe moving and handling.


There are common injuries and ways in which to promote healthy back care.

Most common injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders to the back and limbs include:

  • Damage to:
    • Joints
    • Muscles
    • Tendons and ligaments
    • Discs
  • Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
  • Hernias
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Fractures

Promoting healthy back care

Key activities include:

  • Always ensure a good posture
  • Try to use a chair with a backrest. Change how you sit every few minutes
  • Stay active and exercise. Particularly strengthen abdominal and back muscles
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress

HSE Guidelines

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have numerical guidelines for lifting and lowering loads. Weights to be lifted may need to be reduced The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have numerical guidelines for lifting and lowering loads. Weights to be lifted may need to be reduced below the guideline values if there are any factors that could affect the moving and assisting activity.

Volunteers must be aware of their own limitations.

The guidelines for handling whilst sitting are shown below.

Handling by two or more people may make possible an operation that is beyond the capability of one person, or reduce the risk of injury to a single handler

Things to consider:

  • Enough space for the handlers to manoeuvre
  • They should have adequate access to the load
  • One person should plan and then take charge of the operation, ensuring that the movements are coordinated
  • Good communication between team members
  • Think about the dignity and safety of everyone
  • Teams of more than four members are unlikely to work successfully

Session Summary

Key Points

A volunteer’s responsibility is to:

  • Avoid moving and assisting activities if there is a risk of injury, to assess activities if they cannot be avoided and to reduce the risk of injury as far as reasonably practicable
  • Be aware of the organisation’s moving and assisting policy, to use equipment properly, to tell the organisation if they identify hazardous handling or defects in equipment and to ensure activities don’t put themselves or others at risk
  • Attend relevant training provided by your organisation if the role involves moving and assisting
  • Ensure good musculoskeletal health to enable safe moving and assisting



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