Vol. 1, Issue 26 (Dec 04) Manual Handling

The Health and Safety Executive have reported that manual handling is responsible for over a third of all major and over three day injuries.

In the period 2002 / 2003 over 3,500 workers suffered major injuries as a result of incidents. While in the same period saw over 49,000 over three day injuries caused by unsafe manual handling activities.

The relevant piece of legislation dealing with this is the “Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992” as Amended.

The regulations require employers to reduce the risk of injury by elimination or reduction. Such as redesigning the workplace by the use of mechanical equipment.

There has been an increased market with tools to assist with lifting and transporting loads.

Such as: –

  • Conveyors.
  • Manually powered trolleys.
  • Hand tools such as lifting hooks
  • Lift trucks—not just fork lift trucks.
  • Hoists and cranes.

What ever is considered always ensure that relevant and appropriate information and instruction be provided, this must include relevant training and refresher training.

You must undertake a risk assessment where manual handling cannot be avoided. See page 2 for direction and guidance.

For eliminating and reducing manual handling the following should be considered: –

Try to minimise the need for manual handling. Can it be eliminated entirely by the use of mechanical means? If not can the load be reduced? Can the load be broken down and items removed to enable more trips to take place?

Is the work environment poor of good? Can it be improved by additional lighting or altering shelves or work surfaces? Are there any hazards between the interaction of mechanical means and manual handling?

Move towards appropriate action levels. When manual handling is unavoidable try to work within these action levels.

Levels below 16 Kg or 35 lb.
Generally no special action required, provide those connected with manual handling of loads who may be exposed to risks i.e. young persons, nursing mothers and pregnant women with suitable training.

Levels from 16 Kg to 34 Kg or 35 LB to 75 lb.
Procedures should be available to identify those who are unable to handle such levels regularly without un-acceptable risks unless mechanical assistance is provided.

Levels from 34 Kg to 55 Kg or 75 LB to 120 lb.
Unless the regularly handling of these weights is limited to effective, supervised, suitably selected and trained persons, mechanical assistance is required.

Levels above 55 Kg or 120 lb.
Mechanical assistance and handling assistance should always be considered, very few persons can regularly handle loads of this size.

Check Lists for Managers and Supervisors.

Check the nature of the manual-handling task for which you are responsible, include the nature and the extent of the hazards.

Assess the capabilities of the individuals for who you are responsible for i.e. age, gender, health conditions, degrees of skill or experience and potential disability, in relation to their ability to complete the tasks.

Review and re-assess regularly in particular when significant changes occur in the workforce, the location and the environment.

Make rest periods and job rotation schemes that may be useful during repetitive operations to minimise any adverse effects of fatigue and monotony.

Consider appropriate training, both practical and theoretical, in safe manual handling operation methods for any employees who are or may be required to under take manual handling.

Check List for Employees

Respect the safe methods of work in which suitable training and instruction has been given.

Use correctly any suitable mechanical handling equipment, which has been provided.

Inform about any changes in conditions or other circumstances that may effect your capability to undertake the manual handling of any load, including any physical conditions.

Report to the supervisor before carrying out any manual handling of loads in which the weight appears to be excessive.

Co-operate with the employer in the maintenance of the workplace, including keeping the floors and other working areas and surfaces clean from obstructions and substances likely to cause or to be the cause of persons to slip, trip or fall.

To use correctly any personal protective clothing that has been provided.

Information Sources.

The HSE “manual handling assessment chart” can be found at


Free copies of “getting to grips with manual handling” a short guide INDG143 can be downloaded from: –


Free download document



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