Best practices and guides for safe manual handling of patients

This page has been prepared as a resource for those interested in approaches to the manual handling of patients and prevention of injury. It is not intended to be exhaustive but should still serve as a starting point for more detailed investigations.

Canada - governmental/legislation

Alberta - Work Safe

  • Work Safe Alberta is a government-led initiative in consultation with industry and labour to help prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Occupational Health and Safety Council enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code.
    Work Safe Alberta
  • No unsafe lift - Alberta Occupational Health and Safety requires assessment and control of workplace hazards.​
    No Unsafe Lift (PDF)

British Columbia - Work Safe

Ontario Long-Term Care Homes Act

36.  Every licensee of a long-term care home shall ensure that staff use safe transferring and positioning devices or techniques when assisting residents.  O. Reg. 79/10, s. 36.

39.  Every licensee of a long-term care home shall ensure that mobility devices, including wheelchairs, walkers and canes, are available at all times to residents who require them on a short-term basis.  O. Reg. 79/10, s. 39.

Canada - associations and organizations

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA)

Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW)

United States - governmental/legislation

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Food and Drug Administration

US Department of Labor

11 US states with safe patient handling laws/regulations

Occupational Safety & Health Administration



  • 2011 – require facilities in University of Illinois Hospital system to implement policy to identify, assess, develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients/residents/nurses/healthcare workers associated with lifting/transferring/repositioning/moving a patient/resident


  • 2007 – require healthcare facilities to establish safe patient handling programs
  • 2008 - extended safe patient handling practices to employees/residents in nursing homes
  • 2007/8 – 50/50 management and employees to reduce employee injuries related to lifting, enhance use of lifting devices


  • 2011 – require all settings that move patients to develop a safe patient handling plan
  • 2007 – passed a law, providing grants for safe patient handling programs (500k per year for 2 years)


  • 2011 - safe patient handling policy for lifting, transferring, repositioning all or part or most of patient’s bodyweight excluding emergency situations

New Jersey

  • Require healthcare facilities to establish safe patient handling programs

New York

  • 2014/15 – general hospitals/health care facilities required to have safe patient handling and mobility programs by Jan, 2017
  • 2011 – program to collect data reflecting employee and patient injuries resulting from patient handling, comparing manual and technology techniques
  • All participants need risk identification and assessment plan, employee training program, need to commit to avoiding manual patient handling as much as possible, provide ongoing reporting through health and safety committees


  • 2005 – long term care loan fund program – purchase/improve/install lifts and for staff education and training

Rhode Island

  • 2006 – required to have committee for development of safe handling program and be ready to implement in 2008


  • 2006 – require governing body of hospital or QA of nursing home to implement policy to identify/assess/develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients and nurses associated with lifting/transferring/repositioning/moving patient    


​​United States - associations and organizations

American Association for Safe Patient Handling and Movement

  • Healthcare Recipient Sling and Lift Hanger Bar Compatibility Guidelines - release pending

American Industrial Hygiene Association

American Nurses Association

Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP)

International - governmental/legislation


New Zealand

United Kingdom

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)


International - associations and organizations

International Standards Organization