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Safely Navigating Stairs in Challenging Situations

No one should be moved up or down stairs if they are violent or if you reasonably foresee that they might become violent during the process.

This article provides guidelines on how to assess and manage the risks associated with moving individuals in two specific circumstances.

(1) When they are intoxicated or ill and require assistance, and (2) when they are non-compliant.

Prioritising Safety

Before delving into the specific circumstances, it's essential to emphasise the importance of prioritising safety above all else.

By this we mean the safety of both the individual and those assisting them must always be the top priority!

Always consider if there are alternative procedures or routes that can be used to avoid the use of stairs. In other words, is there an alternative way to achieve the same outcome (ie; getting the person to the same end safe place).

Assisting an Intoxicated or Ill Person

It's not uncommon for individuals to find themselves in situations where they become intoxicated or fall ill, rendering them unable to navigate stairs without assistance. Therefore you need to:

- Assess the Situation

- Request Assistance

- Use Proper Techniques

- Monitor Vital Signs

Dealing with a Non-Compliant Individual

First consideration needs to be - does the individual need to be moved up or down stairs, and why?

Managing non-compliant individuals on stairs requires careful consideration of safety for all parties involved.

It is crucial to prevent any escalation of the situation, and you therefore need to:

- Communicate with the individual

- Avoid Physically Intervening, where possible

- Escort Safely (when needed)

Dynamic Risk Assessment Approach

In all cases, a dynamic risk assessment is essential before considering any stair-related activity.

A dynamic risk assessment is a mental evaluation of risk that is particularly useful when any delay could increase the potential for harm.

It can also serve as an initial step in a more formal risk assessment.

Assessed risk in line with the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended); the risk involves a ‘manual handling activity’ and the moving of an ‘unsafe load’.

We have produced a risk assessment to identify any additional hazards and provide suitable and sufficient control measures as part of every employer’s statutory duty and in line with the above regulations.

To learn more about conducting risk assessments -


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