Moving and Handling Principles

The systematic review covered: manual handling interventions and the effectiveness of training in healthcare workers; the effectiveness of manual handling training and interventions in non healthcare workers; the effectiveness of exercise/physical training on manual handling capability; the effectiveness of the back school approach for treating and preventing manual handling injuries; and the effectiveness of ergonomics training and ergonomics interventions on manual handling. The literature review identified 84 papers, comprising 50 intervention studies; 22 papers describing questionnaire based surveys or audits assessing the effectiveness of prior manual handling training and 12 reviews or reports detailing the views of expert groups on manual handling training. The results of the systematic review indicate that there is little evidence supporting the effectiveness of technique and educational based manual handling training. There was considerable evidence that principles learnt during training are not applied in the working environment, i.e. there is little transfer of training from the learning environment to the working environment. Strength and flexibility training appear to offer benefits, although further research is needed to ascertain whether such interventions are sustainable over the long term, and whether there are long term benefits in terms of injury reduction in an occupational setting. There was no evidence of the effectiveness of back schools for preventing low back pain. Evidence does exist that multi-element ergonomics interventions, particularly those that include risk assessments, the observation of workers in their working environment, the tailoring of training to suit individual needs, and the redesign of equipment and handling tasks can be effective in reducing the risk of manual handling injuries.