What you need to know about patient lifting hoist regulations in the UK

Whilst there aren’t necessarily any legal patient lifting hoist regulations, there are policies to adhere to and be mindful of whenever you’re using the equipment. These are usually specified by the relevant NHS trust or external care providers in charge of the patient’s care.

Responsibility of these hoist regulations will fall between the trust/company and the carer themselves. Here’s what you need to know about patient lifting hoist regulations before you get started.

Why are there lifting hoist regulations?

Whether it’s a simple case of a bad choice of sling, or it’s that the hoist equipment hasn’t been serviced or LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) tested in the last six months, there are a few different things that can cause issues when you’re moving and handling someone.

With the right overhead hoist system, transferring patients should be as safe and easy as possible. That being said, accidents do happen from time-to-time for various reasons, which is precisely why hoist regulations and rules are put in place.

You must carry out a risk assessment for each different individual.

What is the care provider’s responsibility with hoist regulations?

It is up to the care provider (NHS trust, hospice, care home, etc.) to ensure that all patient lifting equipment has always been serviced and maintained accordingly. This will help organisations keep an up-to-date record of the working order of their equipment – particularly overhead hoists.

Any patient lifting hoists should be serviced once a year, and by law, the hoist should be LOLER tested every six months. Find out more about what these checks entail in this blog post.

It is the responsibility of the care organisation to ensure that this is carried out on a regular basis. There should be a small sticker somewhere on the hoist system with a date on to show when the system was last checked by a certified engineer.

Arranging staff training on the equipment is also the responsibility of the care provider. For any staff who cannot attend the training, the organisation should communicate all instructions on how to use the equipment.

Hoist regulations for healthcare professionals

For carers and other healthcare professionals using the equipment with patients and clients, there are some more lifting hoist regulations and practices to follow.

The first thing to start with is a risk assessment (also referred to as a moving and handling plan). This should be personalised for every client you work with to suit their needs.

The risk assessment will cover:

  • What equipment you will use
  • Which hoist to use for which task and which sling to use with it
  • The use of any extra safety devices, i.e., belts and harnesses
  • The number of carers needed to carry out the task
  • Any extra relevant information on the patient themselves

This risk assessment should then be kept on file for the patient so it is easily accessed for anyone who may need it. Check this risk assessment every time you plan on transferring the patient with a hoist to ensure that it is the best solution for the individual.

Your risk assessment should also detail which sling is to be used for each transfer. You can find out more about how to choose the right hoisting sling here.

Choosing the right sling will help prevent the patient from sliding or falling out of the sling due to it being too big or too small.

You should have a quick check of the hoist itself before using it to make sure it looks and feels safe to use with patients. This includes checking the movement of the hoist, its batteries, and the sling itself.

Here’s a five-point checklist we put together that you can use.

Whilst it is the care provider’s job to schedule training, it is also your own responsibility to make sure that you have been trained and checked the risk assessment before moving a patient. You should also check the safe working load of the hoist unit being used and make sure it will suit your patient.

Summary

Although there are no formal patient lifting hoist regulations, there are several things you need to stick to when you’re using it with patients. As long as both the care provider and the carer follow these steps, it should help keep the patient as safe as possible throughout every transfer.