What is Manual Handling?

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns


22 Aug 2019


Manual handling is responsible for over a third of all workplace injuries. Yet it’s common in many business environments—and still an issue many managers are uncertain about.

So in this guide, we take a look at its purpose in your business and how you can regulate it for health & safety reasons.

What is manual handling in the workplace?

The term is a catch-all for activities including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, and carrying.

Another definition, which you can find in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992, is:

“Any transporting or support of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.”

There are serious implications for you if an employee sustains an injury while performing any of the above activities.

How do you ensure proper safety? They can start by avoiding any unnecessary manual handling. If your staff can avoid a task, then they should.

In cases where it’s unavoidable, you must properly assess the risk, put sensible measures in place, and ensure the individual performing manual handling is aware of the proper technique and the potential risks.

What is the legislation associated with manual handling?

The main legislation relating to manual handling is the MHOR 1992.

But what is the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992? It provides a definition, as well as a clear ranking of measures for dealing with risks.

  • First: Avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Second: Assess any hazardous manual handling operations that can’t be avoided.
  • Third: Reduce the risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable.

You can find a full breakdown of the regulations on the HSE website.

What is an ergonomic approach to manual handling?

You’ll want an effective but efficient approach. One way to do this is to provide training to your employees, ideally through an external provider, saving you time and energy.

We provide numerous health & safety training courses, including manual handling.

Ultimately, this involves assessing risks and having a good procedure in place. Before any lifting activity, you should always take into account:

  • The individual’s capability.
  • The nature of the load.
  • Environmental conditions.
  • Work organisation.

Then, when an individual has to lift something, they should:

  • Reduce the amount of twisting, stooping, and reaching.
  • Avoid lifting from floor level or above shoulder height.
  • Adjust storage areas to minimise the need to carry out such movements.
  • Consider how to minimise carrying distances.

Tips for good technique

Here are a few top tips on ensuring good technique and minimising risk:

  • Remove obstruction from the route prior to lifting.
  • Plan a rest if the lift is long, rest the load midway, not on the floor or on a high shelf.
  • Keep the load close to the waist.
  • Keep the load close to your body.
  • Hold the heaviest side next to your body.
  • Adopt a stable position and keep your feet apart.
  • Keep your head up when handling.

Getting manual handling right

If you still have questions regarding manual handling, or think your workplace would benefit from training, contact one of our health & safety experts today on 0808 145 3380.


About the Author

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns has practical experience in Health & Safety and Risk Management having worked for major insurer prior to joining Croner.

She has gained extensive helpline experience offering competent advice and timely support to large number of clients, in various industries and at all levels.  Completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, also passed NEBOSH Environmental Diploma Unit A, (IOSH Managing Environmental responsibilities). NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, FPA Advance Fire Training, NCRQ Diploma – Distinction currently completing IPD and volunteering for Community project in Atherstone also as a Dementia support worker with CWPT.


Fiona Burns

Do you have any questions?

Get a free callback from one of our regional experts today