Last updated: 01.08.19

Manual handling – moving & handling risk assessment guidance

Manual Handling Risk assesments

Employers have a duty to assess all relevant risks which may contribute to potential workplace injuries whenever manual handling is required. These risks can fall under one of four categories which can be remembered by using the acronym TILE – task, individual, load and environment. By separating the potential risks out into specific areas using a TILE risk assessment, employers can more easily assess what the relevant ways off addressing a risk would be.

What is Manual Handling?

First things first we should define what manual handling actually means. Manual handling is something that most people will encounter in their work lives, whether it’s something as simple as moving a box of files, or it’s a major part of working in a workshop or construction site.

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive is responsible for this area of workplace safety, and more specifically, the UK’s law comes from the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (known as MHOR). This law defines 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".

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The TILE Assessment


This involves looking at the physical actions required by the task which could result in strain and stress being applied to the body. Movements like twisting, bending and pulling all have the potential to cause injury depending on the type of load that’s being handled.


Different employees can have varying levels of physical capability which can make them more vulnerable, such as pregnancy, previous injuries or disabilities which could cause complications during manual handling. Each employee should be assessed for their suitability if they’re required to complete a manual handling task, and have the task delegated to a more capable employee if they cannot safely carry it out. Employees should also have undergone the relevant manual handling training for the task they’re required to carry out.


Each load which needs to be handled will have different properties – weight, size, how easy it is to grip, temperature, stability, etc. The characteristics of a load need to be assessed so that appropriate safety measures can be implemented, and the right form of handling applied. If a load comprises of a hazardous material, additional factors will need to be considered.


The working environment where the load will need to be handled should also be taken into consideration as this can further complicate a manual handling task, such as uneven surfaces, proximity of other workers, visibility, etc. The impact of these conditions should be assessed against a task, as it may result in additional equipment being required.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also provide a full manual handling risk assessment checklist in order to thoroughly assess and review the risks associated with a particular task in line with their recommended standards. This includes a preliminary assessment which can utilise the TILE approach, followed by a more detailed checklist if further assessment is required which breaks down potential actions which can carry risk, and finally looks at creating remedial steps which should be taken in order to reduce the risks and who the responsibility for these lies with.

Manual Handling legislation

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations are the most significant when it comes to this area of safety, sometimes incorrectly referred to as the ‘manual handling act’. This dedicated piece of legislation is designed to help employers and employees manage, control and ultimately reduce the risk of injuries that might come about from poor manual handling practice. One of the most important elements of the legislation is that, when it came into force in 1993, it placed a requirement on employers to take action in respect of manual handling and ensured that they had a responsibility to their employees.

Want to find out more about manual handling legislation? Click here to check out our full manual handling legislation guide.

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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Our Manual Handing in the Workplace course can help ensure that your staff are trained on correct manual handling procedures and their responsibilities when carrying out manual handling tasks. Virtual College courses can be carried out at a pace to suit employees and will help equip them with the knowledge to carry out their role safely and efficiently.

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