Category Archives: Moving and Handling

Advice Moving and Handling News

Breakthrough for Sufferers of Chronic Back Pain

€lterer Mann hat Probleme mit seinen BandscheibenRecent research conducted by the University of Southern Denmark has turned much of the established thinking about chronic lower back pain on its head. Over a period of ten years the Danish team have studied tissue collected from sufferers and found that nearly half of the samples were infected, most often by Propionibacterium acnes more generally known as the cause of acne.

When a vertebral disc prolapses or ‘slips’ the body attempts to repair the damage by growing tiny blood vessels into the disc itself. Rather than helping, this actually allows the offending bacteria, which usually enters the bloodstream as a consequence of people brushing their teeth, to infiltrate the disc resulting in painful inflammation and damage.

Around £480 million is spent in the UK each year conducting surgery on the human spine, the largest part of this treatment is in tackling back pain. Prolapsed vertebral discs pressing against the spinal cord are often simply cut off to reduce or remove the pressure and, therefore, the pain. However, in light of the new research, many patients will be able to avoid surgery and simply take a 100-day course of antibiotics. The researchers found that in as many as 80% of cases where damaged vertebrae had been identified and pain suffered for a period greater than six months, it was alleviated by antibiotics.

Peter Hamlyn of University College London Hospital commented, ‘We are talking about probably half of all spinal surgery for back pain being replaced by taking antibiotics. It may be that we can save £250 million from the NHS budget by doing away with unnecessary operations. The price of the antibiotic treatment is only £114. It is spectacularly different to surgery.’

Of course, over-use of antibiotics is currently of significant concern to the health services as antibiotic-resistant bacteria present ever-greater problems and challenges to the successful treatment of infections. Further research is needed to ensure that drugs are targeted effectively, the number of patients responding grows and the duration of suffering reduced. Dr Hanne Albert, one of the researchers, pointed out that currently many patients were treated with ineffective surgery instead of the drug treatment that could effectively address their condition.

Moving and Handling News

Former Care Home Group Prosecuted after Death of 76 year old Resident

A former care home group that went into administration in July 2011 were prosecuted in late spring of this year following the death of a resident in their care.

Mrs Barbara Kilty who was a 76 year old mother of six died in Stoke Mandeville Hospital 17 days after she had slipped from her wheelchair shortly after she had been transferred from her bed using a hoist.

The Ashbourne Group UK Ltd which were part of the Southern Cross Healthcare group were the owners of the Lakeside Care Centre in Aylesbury at the time of the incident on 25th December 2010.The centre is now in the hands of new owners.

Aylesbury Crown court were told that Mrs Kitty who had been a resident at the Lakeside Care Centre for more than three years slipped from her wheelchair following a hoisting transfer. She broke her hip as a result but the incident went unreported within the care home.

Ten days after the incident Mrs Kilty was sent for an x-ray after she had continued to show distress on being moved by staff.

Seventeen days after the fall Mrs Kilty was eventually taken into hospital care for an operation to correct the fracture but sadly she died shortly after the operation whilst still in hospital.

The court heard how the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found that the risk assessment, equipment and procedures for safer moving and handling within the care home were not suited to the needs of an immobile resident such as Mrs Kilty. The care home group were found to be in breach of section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The presiding Judge Mr Laird QC said “The company are in liquidation and have no assets. Any fine the court could impose would therefore be meaningless. The standards at Lakeside Care Home were woefully inadequate. Had Ashbourne Group UK Ltd still been trading I would have imposed a fine of £100.00. However because the company has no assets I impose a nominal fee of £1.”

After the hearing the HSE inspector Emma Rowlands said “This was an entirely avoidable incident involving a frail and vulnerable lady. Ashbourne Group UK Ltd should have made sure that equipment appropriate to the needs of Mrs Kitty was provided. If anything positive is to come out of this very sad incident, it is other employers take note and be aware that the HSE will not hesitate to take action against those who fall so far below the required standards. Each year a significant number of incidents are reported involving people being injured while being moved with hoisting equipment.”

Mrs Kilty’s daughters added “We are very angry and upset that yet another care home didn’t care. Our mother passed away through negligence on the part of Southern Cross. We would like to thank the Health and Safety Executive for pursuing this case.”

Moving and Handling News People Handling

Large Care Home Group Fined after Death of Elderly Resident Following a Fall

A large UK-based care home group has been fined £57,000 after an elderly resident in their care died when she fractured her neck in a fall during a manual handling transfer. The company pleaded guilty late last year in a Scottish court of breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, 1974 which led to the fatal injury of an 88 year old female resident.

On the morning of 22nd October 2008 a carer in the home was in the process of assisting the resident with her undressing as well as transferring her from her bed to her shower chair when the resident fell to the floor. The carer, who had very recently taken up employment within the home, was unaware that a care plan and manual handling assessment stated that two people were required to transfer the resident.

The care home group admitted that they had failed to review and update the risk assessment for the resident and had also failed to provide adequate training and instruction as well as staff supervision for those workers within the home who were expected to undertake people handling activities.

The resident had been at the care home for over ten years when she was taken to the local hospital for emergency treatment following the fall. She died the next day from her injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation indicated that the residents care plan and safe system of work assessment had not been updated when there had been changes to her mobility. These documents stated incorrectly that one member of staff was required where other documents pertaining to her care indicated there was a requirement for two staff to assist with manual transfers.

The court heard that staff relied on consulting their colleagues about resident’s manual handling needs rather than reading the care plans and risk assessments. The carer present when the resident fell had not been given sufficient instruction and had not been adequately supervised in relation to manual handling activities.

The HSE Principal Inspector Barry Baker said “Care homes have a responsibility to look after their residents who are often vulnerable and not able to look after themselves. In this case the standard of care provided …fell below acceptable levels with tragic consequences.”

“This is not an isolated incident and every year there are numerous residents who suffer serious injuries as a result of a fall in a care home. To help avoid similar incidents it is crucial that care providers ensure they have thorough care plans for their residents in place and that their staff are properly trained and supported to make these plans work in practice.”

Edge Services

Advice Moving and Handling News

£165,000 Fine for Preventable Death of 93 Year Old due to Ill-Fitting Bed Rails


A Huddersfield care home has been fined £165,000 and £18,000 costs after a 93 year old resident died when she became trapped between her mattress and bed rails resulting in her asphyxiation. This brings the total number of RIDDOR reported bed rail related deaths to 25 since 2001 most of which could have been avoided.

Leeds Crown Court heard the case and imposed the fine based on the fact that no formal training had been given to the staff on the safe use/installation of bed rails and also records showed that the resident had previously injured her leg on two occasions when it had become trapped in the rails. The care home group- who own 27 care homes – admitted breaching health and safety regulations.

The Safe Use of Bed Rails

Bed rails also known as bed side rails, cot-sides safety sides and bed guards are used extensively in the care sector to protect vulnerable people from falling out of bed. Analysis of accident data continues to highlight the serious issue of injuries involving bed rails.

There are several causes of injury, the most serious being entrapment of the neck, head or chest. This could lead to death from asphyxiation. Injuries also arise from a person attempting to climb over the rails and falling, entrapping arms legs hands and feet or striking their head or limbs against the rails.

The risks associated with bed rail use include:

  • Poorly fitting rails allowing parts of the body to become trapped, examples include being trapped between the bed rail and the headboard or bottom rail and bed base.
  • Poor rail design for example over-sized spacing between the rails.
  • Poorly fitting mattresses that do not fit snugly between the bed rails leaving gaps between the side of the mattress and the bed rail.
  • Mattresses that are too thin or easily compressible at the edges for certain bed rail types allowing the client to slide under the rail.
  • Loose fitting bed rails allowing movement away from the side of the mattress or up and down the bed exposing dangerous gaps.
  • Use of pressure relieving mattresses which reduce the effective height of the bed rail.
  • Lack of or poor maintenance of a bed rail.
  • Inappropriate assessment of the client regarding bed rail usage.

Most of the fatalities caused by the use of bed rails could have been avoided if a thorough risk assessment of the situation had been undertaken. Effective risk assessment is therefore the key to ensure safe use of bed rails. The assessment should consider the client, the combination of proposed equipment, the bed and the mattress.

Issues to consider will include:

  • If the client is likely to fall from their bed are bed rails an appropriate solution?
  • Does the client’s physical size or behaviour present a risk when using rails?
  • Is the bed rail height and general design appropriate for the bed and the client? Bed rails for adults should not be used for children or vice versa.
  • Could the client’s head neck chest or limbs become trapped between the bars of the bed rail or other spaces that might be created between the bed rail, mattress, and headboard or foot board?
  • Is the bed rail fitted correctly and securely?
  • Is the bed rail in good condition? There should be no parts missing.
  • The rail should be inspected regularly to ensure that it remains in good condition during use.

As a general rule bed rails should be fitted so that the gap between their end and the headboard is less than 60mm. All gaps between rail bars for adults must be 120mm or less and for children 60mm or less

If the bed, mattress, bed rail or condition of the client changes then the risk assessment should be reviewed and documented accordingly.

Kate Lovett

Senior Trainer

Edge ServicesThe Manual Handling Training Company