What is Manual Handling?

What is Manual Handling 

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 place responsibilities on employers to implement control measures to minimise the risks involved with manual handling.

Businesses must ensure all reasonable precautions are taken to provide and maintain safe working conditions, and that staff have the knowledge required to undertake manual handling tasks safely.

What is Manual Handling?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define manual handling as "any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving) by hand or bodily force".

Common manual handling activities at work include:

  • Stacking shelves in a warehouse / storeroom.
  • Lifting boxes / carrying bags from one place to another.
  • Moving furniture.
  • Stretching to reach a high shelf or bending to a bottom shelf.

Manual handling health risks

What are the health risks associated with manual handling?

Poor manual handling practice can cause a number of injuries and conditions, mostly affecting the back.

Common manual handling injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Damaged nerves
  • Slipped discs
  • Fractured bones
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Hernias
  • Muscle spasms
  • Backache

Performing manual handling tasks does not cause health problems if good technique and practice is followed. Problems arise when shortcuts are taken, such as lifting and carrying with poor postures or performing manual handling tasks that are too difficult / frequent.

Manual handling techniques

How do I undertake manual handling tasks safely?

There are simple techniques that you can use to allow you to undertake manual handling tasks safely.

These include:

  • Positioning your feet – give yourself a balanced, stable base by keeping your feet apart.
  • Adopting a good posture – this could include bending your knees, keeping your shoulders level and making sure your back is straight by maintaining its natural curve.
  • Getting a firm grip.
  • Keeping close to the load.

A risk assessment should be undertaken for any manual handling tasks that are undertaken regularly, assessing the likelihood of harm and the severity of injury / damage that could occur.

I need more information – help!

Our online Manual Handling course enables users to understand the risks associated with manual handling and the benefits of improving manual handling techniques. Take a look at the course here.

The HSE also offers a lot of free guidance on manual handling including suitable control measures.