The Challenges in Moving a Restrained Person Up or Down a Flight of Stairs

Moving individuals up or downstairs under restraint poses numerous challenges for caregivers, healthcare staff and other professionals.

This task falls under manual handling activities, requiring careful consideration and risk assessments to ensure the safety and well-being of both the person being moved and the staff involved.

‘slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of injuries at work’.

In this blog, we will explore the complexities of this task, the common injuries associated with it, and the essential risk assessments needed to carry out this activity effectively.

The Nature of Manual Handling:

Manual handling refers to any activity that involves the transportation or support of loads by hand or bodily force.

In the context of moving someone up or downstairs under restraint, manual handling plays a vital role, as it involves physically manipulating the person to navigate stairs.

The Challenges of Moving Someone Up or Downstairs under Restraint:

  1. Lack of Mobility – individuals under restraint may have limited mobility due to medical conditions, physical disabilities, or cognitive impairments. This can make the manual handling task more demanding and potentially risky.
  2. Safety Concerns – any physical restraint used to control movement adds another layer of complexity to the task. Poor techniques or insufficient safeguards could result in injuries to the person being moved or the staff involved.
  3. Weight Distribution – the uneven distribution of weight in the person’s body, as well as any equipment, can make manoeuvring a person on stairs tricky and require extra caution.

Common Injuries:

  1. Falls – moving someone up or downstairs poses a risk of falls, which can result in various injuries, from minor bruises to severe injuries.
  2. Strains and Sprains – improper movements, poor restraint holding techniques and resistance from the person can lead to strains and sprains in the back, shoulders, and other muscle groups.

Risk Assessments:

To carry out the task of moving someone up or downstairs a thorough risk assessments must be conducted, and appropriate control measures put into place. Key considerations include:

  1. Training – ensure that all staff involved in this activity receive proper training on restraint techniques required to move a person up or downstairs.
  2. Staffing – are there enough trained staff available to carry out the activity safely; including where necessary additional staff to manage crowds.
  3. Communication – establish clear communication between staff members during the movement to ensure coordination and the prevention of accidents.
  4. Assessing the Individual – each person must undergo an individual risk assessment to determine the most suitable approach to moving them. Consideration being given to the person physical and cognitive capabilities.
  5. Equipment – are assistive devices like hoists, slings, or stair climbers necessary to aid movement.
  6. Environment – evaluate the staircase and surroundings for any potential hazards or obstacles that could impede safe movement.


Moving someone up or downstairs under restraint is a challenging high-risk activity that requires careful consideration and a thorough risk assessments.

Understanding the complexities involved, implementing necessary control measures and having appropriately trained staff will improve the safety and well-being of both the individuals being moved and the staff moving the person.

Prioritising safety and effective restraint techniques is essential in providing care and support whilst reducing the risk any potential harm being realised (ie; things going wrong).

Why Should I Bother? What’s In It For Me?

  • It is a legal requirement for every employer and self-employed person to make an assessment of the health and safety risks arising out of their work, which means that is you fail to carry out a risk assessment that can leave you liable for any injury should someone get injured as a result of your breaching the duty of care you owe to them.
  • You are also the person ultimately responsible for health and safety in your business, which means that you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that any risk assessments are done to the appropriate standard.
  • You can delegate the task, but as the business owner, you still remain ultimately responsible for it. This means means the person you delegate it to needs to understand your business and all of the hazards and risks involved and that means that you will have to spend your time explaining everything to them. That’s why (for small businesses, including training providers and martial arts clubs, etc) you are better off investing the time in getting trained to do them yourself (and it doesn’t take long)!
  • In recent years, penalties for health and safety breaches in the UK have steadily risen and the ten highest H&S fines of 2019 were all over £1 million so can you imagine what a fine like that would do to your business and your life?
  • And, if you are investigated and found to be in breach of health and safety law, you also have to pay for the time it takes the Health & Safety Executive investigation and the hourly rate is £163 per hour so you end up paying to be investigated and (if found guilty) for your own prosecution!
  • In one case one company was fined a total of £60,000 plus prosecutions costs of £45,548 and the contractor was ordered to pay £20,000 plus prosecution costs of 15,516!
  • The good news is you don’t need any specific training or qualifications to carry out a risk assessment, however, you must be a competent person, which is someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety and that is exactly what this course will give you!
  • This course will take you through everything you need to know and do to produce risk assessments and at the end of the course when you submit your assessment, we will issue you with a Level 3 Risk Assessor Certificate of Competence which is your evidence that you are competent to do risk assessments because you have gone through a structured process of learning and development.
  • In this course we take you through the Manual Handling Regulations and how they apply to physical techniques so if you teach physical restraint (also known as PMVA/MVA/Positive Handling) you can produce a risk assessment around your physical skills, which will also set you apart from your competitors.
  • There is also a section on ‘Risk Assessing Violence in The Workplace’ so if you work in an industry where there is risk of staff being exposed to violence you will know how to risk assess that to a competent standard (no other risk assessment course does that)!

Contact us to learn more about how you can become competent to risk assess and therefore manage foreseeable risks in your workplace settings –