Manual Handling FAQs

By Fiona Burns
21 Dec 2020

The Manual Handling Operation Regulation 1992 are there to protect workers from dangerous lifting operations and reduce absence due to musculoskeletal disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I reduce manual handling at work?

The main method is to follow the hierarchy of control for safety ERIC:

  • Eliminate – Can you eliminate the Manual Handling Operation completely? Work on the item where it is. Can you automate the process? Deliver material in bulk tanker or tipper instead of bags or use 1T bag with material handling equipment
  • Reduction – Reduce the risk by making Item lighter. Move pallet nearer to point of use. Use pallet truck or sack barrow to make it easier. Use rise and set tables that rise as load reduces thus ensuring lift is always waist high
  • Isolate – Use barriers and guarding that will prevent access to moving parts or vehicles during manual handling activities
  • Control – Risk Assessment, Safe System of Work, Method Statement, Training
  • PPE – Use appropriate PPE to avoid sharp edges, exposure to chemicals etc

What is the maximum weight I can lift?

Nearly everyone has seen the HSE Manual Handling Chart, however this is a guide only. The maximum lift will depend on the capability of the employee. Even body builders can have difficulty lifting 10Kg out of a parts bin. This is because their muscles have been developed in the gym to work in one plane. In the working world they need more dexterity.

Do I need to carry out a manual handling risk assessment?

For all regular lifting tasks, you should carry out a manual handling risk assessment. You should base this on TILE or LITE (just swap the letters around):

  • Load – How heavy? Are there sharp edges? Where is centre of gravity? Does it have handles or hand holds?
  • Individual – What is their ability, experience, training?
  • Task – Does it involve pulling, pushing, stooping, twisting? Does it involve lifting from low to high? How repetitive is it? Do they have to travel long distances?
  • Environment – What is the condition of the floor? Are there trip hazards? Do they have to climb stairs or ladders? Do you need to take account of the weather?

Training is key for any non-routine lifts. Assess the risks before a lift is carried out.

Is training required for manual handling?

Training must be carried out that is specific to the tasks or activities employees perform. This should include possible injuries caused by handling plus legal requirements. The training should also assess the risks and techniques used for all task carried out via demonstration and practical participation.

Can two people carry out a lift e.g. carry furniture upstairs?

Yes. The employees will need to plan how they are going to carry this out, agreeing a route and method. Good communication is key. This means clear instructions and ensuring a designated lead is fully in control of lift process. An additional measure could be a separate observer to direct lift as it progresses. Issues include:

  • Is the load too heavy for numbers used?
  • Is the load too big for route?
  • Can the load be slid up on side and ropes or other aids used?
  • Are there any pinch points along route?
  • Are employees of equal capability and have they understood instructions given?

Expert support

If you have questions that weren’t answered in this article, or you want further health & safety support, speak to one of our experts today on 01455 858 132.

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

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