Manual Handling Risk Management

Manual handling, that is moving loads by hand, is a common enough task in many workplaces, but it is potentially hazardous to those involved. Read our quick guide to the risk management of manual handling.

Legal requirements

If an employee or volunteer is injured during the process of manual handling, you may need to show you have met your duty care. 
As an employer you also must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. More specifically, you must also comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. 
Under these regulations you need to make sure employees and volunteers:
  • Avoid hazardous manual handling tasks where possible
  • Make a thorough risk assessment of any hazardous task that needs to be undertaken
  • Implement adequate precautions to reduce the risk
  • Provide certain information to employees
Other regulations might also apply to the process of manual handling. For example, when you might be using work tools or equipment as part of the manual handling process. 

Example hazards to look out for

  • Tasks involving long carrying distances or strenuous pushing or pulling
  • Loads that are heavy or bulky, difficult to handle or harmful
  • Locations that restrict posture, have floors that are bumpy, obstructed, slippery, are poorly lit, or have variations in levels
  • Tasks that require unusual capability
  • Unsuitable or defective handling aids and equipment
  • People who may be more prone to injury

Some precautions you can take

  • Use a suitable lifting aid
  • Avoid lifting from floor level or above shoulder height
  • Reduce carrying distance
  • Make the load smaller or lighter
  • Stack boxes or other loads evenly
  • Remove obstructions to free movement
  • Avoid steps and steep ramps
  • Improve lighting
  • Ask someone else to help you
  • Provide information and training
  • Check individual’s capabilities
  • Provide personal protective equipment

Quick guide to manage the risks of manual handling

1. Identify circumstances where manual handling is required and decide if there is a risk of injury. Make a note of these. 

2. Check the precautions you have taken are adequate. If they are not, identify any additional ones that are needed. 

3. Ensure that the precautions you have identified are taken and remain effective. 

4. Ensure that employees and volunteers know how to use any equipment provided or lift safely. 

5. Document your arrangements and responsibilities for preventing injury from manual handling tasks.