Last updated: 30.07.19

Manual handling regulations questions answered

What is Manual Handling and why is it so important?

Manual Handling is defined in The Manual Handling Operations Regulations of 1992 as  "transporting or supporting of any load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force".

Manual handling is an important part of workplace health and safety, and one that is applicable to most workplaces. While injuries, accidents and fires are generally very rare, manual handling injuries, both short- and long-term can be quite common. In this article, we’re going to consider a few of the questions that come up most frequently when discussing manual handling regulations.

What are the manual handling risks?

Injuries and accidents are unfortunately fairly common in the workplace, and one of the leading causes is when people incorrectly handle heavy objects, whether through the wrong technique, without the right equipment, or through overestimating their ability. The manual handling regulations are therefore essential to help ensure that people do not injure themselves while they’re at work. Good manual handling practice isn’t just something that’s nice to have; it’s essential to a safe workplace.

Failure to follow manual handling best practice can have a knock-on effect; it’s not just about the injury itself. Manual handling injuries cost the UK millions each year, as individuals take time off work, which means lost productivity to the business. Where injuries are gradually sustained over long periods, long-term ailments can occur, which shorten careers and cost even more.

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What is the law on manual handling?

Manual handling is governed by the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended 2002), which are known in short as MHOR. It defines, and therefore covers, manual handling as the following:

“…any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing,

pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.”

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that they are tackling the issue of manual handling correctly, which means providing the right instruction, discouraging dangerous manoeuvres and more. Employees also have a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe, which means following the instructions given to them, and reporting any hazardous issues that they may encounter.

Avoid, assess and reduce are the three main points that the MHOR suggest in order to deal with manual handling tasks safely. The principle is fairly straightforward. Firstly, any manual handling task should be avoided if at all possible. Secondly, any task that needs to be done should be assessed before it’s carried out. Finally, measures should be taken to reduce the potential for injury, which can mean everything from providing the right instructions to separating the task into smaller chunks.

Who needs to think about manual handling?

In truth, everyone needs to give some thought to manual handling, because it’s such a common issue in the workplace. Even in the office environment, you might need to lift IT equipment or boxes of paper. By following the guidelines set out in MHOR, you can help ensure that you and your colleagues avoid injury.

What are some of the top manual handling tips?

In order to comply with manual handling regulations, there are a few top tips that you can follow:

  • Always think before you lift something, and consider whether the task is safely achievable without careful maneuvering or additional help
  • Make sure you have good footing before you attempt to lift anything
  • Ensure you have a good grip of the object you’re moving before you attempt to move of lift it
  • Avoid lifting or moving your back too much, and keep the object as close to your body, preferably your waist, as you can
  • Always put the object down before trying to move it into place

Do I need training?

It can be very useful to take manual handling training if you or your employees regularly need to handle heavy or awkward objects, but specific training on the regulations themselves is not always necessary. Click here to find out more about the Virtual College course on manual handling, which is aimed towards anyone who needs to think about manual handling day-to-day. However, it’s always important to remember that training cannot overcome certain tasks.

Top Manual Handling FAQs

How do you lift heavy objects alone?

Get the right posture by making sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, keeping your back straight, tightening your abdominal muscles, bending your knees, squatting down to the floor and looking straight ahead. It may also help to put one knee on the floor and your other knee in front of you bent at a right angle.

How do you lift properly at work?

When you lift an item, prevent injury by adopting the correct posture. Hold the item close to your body and bend at the knees to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your back.

How do you safely lift a large box?

Position your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight and your core strong. Bend your knees and squatting down keeping your gaze straight ahead.

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