Manual Handling At Work

Manual handling
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Manual Handling is often a necessary task in the workplace. However, done incorrectly, it can put employees in danger of injuring themselves and those around them. This blog will look at identifying the risks involved with manual handling and how to avoid them.

Manual Handling

Manual Handling is the physical handling of a load without the assistance of equipment such as a fork lift. This can include, lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling and carrying. Due to poor manual handling, an estimated 8.9 million working days were lost due to Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorder 2016/17 in the UK. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended in 2002, require employers to:

  • Avoid the need for hazardous manual handling
  • Assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling
  • Reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling.

Consequences of Poor Manual Handling

If manual handling is done incorrectly, it could result in a number of potential injuries which range in severity. Below is a list of some of the most common injuries:

  • Lower back injuries
  • Fractures
  • Muscle, Ligament, Tendon damage
  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Trapped Nerves

Manual Handling Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is required when hazardous manual handling cannot be avoided. The assessment should identify where the risk of injury is how to reduce that risk. A checklist is a useful tool to use. Involving employees can increase the chance of identifying hazards and developing solutions that work. Below is an example of a risk assessment:

There are two important question that the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 propose:

  1. How can the movement of the loads be eliminated completely?
  2. How can the task be completed in a manner which doesn’t require the load to move?

This is a hierarchy that the employer should follow. If the load cannot be eliminated completely in stage one, then proceed to stage two and look to reduce the load.

A common acronym used to help identify the risks of manual handling is ‘LITE’. LITE stands for: Load, Individual, Task and Environment.


Firstly, have a look at the physical load. Consider factors such as how heavy it is, whether it has sharp edges or if it’s stable. Control measures for this include: making the load smaller, increasing the load’s stability and providing handles to increase the grip.

Secondly, it’s important to assess the capabilities of the employees who will carry out the manual handling. Assess aspects such as whether they are fit and healthy, have sufficient training and whether there is appropriate supervision.

Furthermore, assess the movements that will need to be carried out for the actual job. For example, does it involve bending or twisting and will it be over a long period of time involving a repetitive action. Control measures can include the use of handling or lifting aids, modifying the movement of your body or team handling.

Finally, evaluate the environment in which the task takes place. For example, look at whether there’s enough space to complete the task and the floor aren’t slippery. In addition, make sure there is adequate lighting to avoid slip, trip and fall hazards. To avoid these hazards, make sure general housekeeping is good and look to keep the task to one level. Moreover, look to improve environmental and floor conditions to reduce the chance of an accident.


Training is an essential part of successful manual handling due to the potential injuries that can occur. Don’t let an employee undertake the task without the training, even if it looks simple as you could be liable if they get injured. In addition, a record should be kept of the training an employee has had as this will help you assign a qualified employee to the task. Training can include:

  • Avoiding manual handling hazards
  • Lifting techniques
  • Importance of good housekeeping
  • Use of PPE

Follow these steps in order to carry out manual handling successfully:

  1. Think before you lift
  2. Keep the load close to your waist
  3. Adopt a stable position
  4. Make sure you have a good grip
  5. Don’t bend your back or twist when lifting
  6. Look ahead
  7. Move smoothly
  8. Know your limits
  9. Lower and adjust

EricEric’s Top Tip

Are health and safety expert had this to say about manual handling:

It’s important to wear appropriate clothing if you’re required to do some lifting. It can be surprising how restrictive some clothing is, therefore making it harder to safely lift objects leading to injuries. This also includes footwear. Make sure your footwear has appropriate grip and are comfortable to wear.

What Sure Safety Can Offer

Sure safety can write your policies on manual handling whilst offering training on how to do risk assessments and on proper manual handling techniques.

To arrange a consultation, call 029 2086 8802 or email

Sure Safety can offer consultancy in the following areas: Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Fire, Accreditation, Training and Policies, Planning and Management Systems. For more information on these services, look at our website.  Furthermore, you can check out our Twitter and Facebook.