The changing face of manual handling training in the current Covid-19 climate

The NBE is fundamentally built on the sharing of information and ideas, and as we continue to work through the Covid-19 pandemic  I wanted to share what others are doing which may help guide your decisions or provide new ideas regarding manual handling training, and in particular, face to face training. There was an excellent thread on the forum about this ''MH during C19'' which may prove a useful resource and I would recommend you visit the forum and read the thread in full.  

Some of the steps being taken by NBE members and shared on the forum are: 

  • Organisations have made their own video demonstrations
  • Classroom training has stopped completely or been reduced in frequency and / or class size
  • Theory is completed by e-learning
  • Staff are buddied up with experienced members and trained as they go
  • Special training added for new clinical and redeployed staff has been introduced. 
  • Drop-in session for staff with a specific training need / upskilling staff
  • All staff will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 as they arrive. If they have are no symptoms they can stay.
  • Demonstrating with reduce contact such as using oneself, and use of mannequins.
  • Regular, thorough cleaning of equipment after sessions and hand washing throughout

Liability is another concern raised within this thread, and has been a topic of conversation among members.

With regards liability, these are unprecedented times, evidenced by jury trials being cancelled, freedom of movement curtailed for large sections of the population and all but essential shops remaining open. As such, reasons for significant reduction in M&H input are not hard to come by. These clearly need to be balanced with the risks of reducing / not providing training. For example a rationale for including face to face training may be:

-  All carers will be coming to work and close contact with a range of clients and staff and as such could be exposed to the virus throughout the duration of their working shift. Therefore, it could be argued that coming to face to face training will not increase the risk further. However, by providing M&H training the injury risk to both attendee and client will be reduced. The trainers risk may be seen to be increased by continuing training in close contact with delegates. However if M&H trainers aren't training it is very likely they will be redeployed to front line care roles, exposing them to the same risk as the delegates.

Where training is required to be delivered to several hundred trainees within a 2-6 week period, as is the case for some NHS teams & councils, the issue is less about exposure to the virus and more about capacity(it is not possible to provide face to face training to such large numbers). At the same time, with the exceptionally high projected sickness absence of staff, it is inconceivable to not employ these large numbers in the required short period.

Each organisation requires to identify their particular hazards and balance the competing risks, recording them and the decision making points with regards changes to existing control measures as they go. 

I want to finish this note by thanking you again for your efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and hope that you, your family, friends and colleagues remain safe and well.


 By Simon Love

Chairman, National Back Exchange


​Whilst this year's conference is cancelled and many local groups are unable to meet, the NBE website has a number of resources available to support you:

  • Members' Forum – a place for members to seek information, advice, opinions and to share best practice and solutions with each other
  • Video Library – a collection of digital resources (our latest addition!)
  • Free Resources – Guides, Guidelines and supporting documentations that are in the public domain
  • Publications Shop – the NBE professional publications and leaflets (as a member you get discounted rate on Publications [does not apply to Leaflets] by using voucher code BOOK22)
  • NBE Blog – all the latest news and updates from the NBE

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