Manual Handling


Manual Handling is defined as ‘any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force'.
Accidents associated with manual handling activities account for over a third of all UK workplace injuries which lead to absences from work of 3 days or more.

Such accidents can occur in all types of work and are not restricted only to manual type jobs. Manual handling can result in various types of musculoskeletal disorders, mainly to the back, upper limbs, neck and lower limbs. Other types of injury may include hernias (damage to muscle wall) and crush injuries to hands or feet.

Some people could be exposed to higher risk and other possible health and safety consequences. Such groups could include those with a health condition, those returning to work from a long period of sickness, expectant/nursing mothers, disabled people, and where there has been previous injury. Where applicable an individual’s personal circumstance therefore must be taken into account as part of any manual handling risk assessment.


It is the policy of the University to reduce risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable to those involved in manual handling and to comply with the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, (as amended 2002).

Work activities which involve hazardous manual handling will have been identified by the procedures involved in hazard identification and risk assessment under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992. These activities include such operations as the lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, supporting, carrying and moving of loads by hand or by bodily force. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 apply to these activities.


In summary, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, (as amended 2002) require employers to-

  • Avoid the need for hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable;
  • Assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling that cannot be avoided; and
  • Reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable.

The Safety, Health and Environment Unit provides basic training in safe manual handling techniques as part of the standard Fire and Safety Awareness course.

Departments/Schools must undertake risk assessments where necessary taking into consideration the task, individual, load and environment and provide further instruction on the methods to be followed in their own workplace, the control measures to be used and any specific 'on the job' requirements. This must include information on the characteristics of a load, of any equipment to be used and local rules.

Duties of responsible persons

Heads of Schools/Departments are to ensure that suitable persons are appointed to take responsibility for implementing this policy and to undertake risk assessments as necessary and to implement suitable controls to reduce risks for manual handling tasks in accordance with the Regulations and guidance.

Managers and supervisors are required to implement measures as required to comply with this policy including risk assessment, control measures to reduce risk and suitable training and information for those who undertake manual handling. Further assistance is available from the Safety, Health and Environment Unit.

To secure the health and safety of workers with regard to manual handling operations, responsible persons in each School/Department should ensure that, for work under their control:

  • Manual handling operations which present a risk of injury are identified
  • Handling operations which present a risk of injury are avoided, so far as is reasonably practicable, by eliminating the need for the load to be moved or by the introduction of automation or mechanization
  • Those significant operations which cannot be avoided are risk assessed using an ergonomic approach which considers the task, individual capability, the load and the environment. The normal University risk assessment policy will apply and the assessment should be recorded to show that it has taken place.
  • Control measures required to eliminate the risk, or reduce it to the lowest level which is reasonably practicable, are identified from the information in the risk assessment and are used to implement a safe system of work
  • All new work which might involve manual handling operations is assessed and safe systems of work are implemented before the work commences
  • Annual reviews of assessments are made to ensure that they are still valid but re-assessment is carried out immediately if any of the components of the work situation have changed
  • All accidents which result in musculoskeletal injury to staff are fully investigated and risk assessments and systems of work are reviewed in the light of such incidents.
  • Staff recruited to posts involving manual handling are suitable for the work they are required to undertake and that job descriptions sent to applicants for employment include details of manual handling tasks where these are part of requirement of the post
  • Staff under their control are not pressurized by supervisors or systems of work into undertaking operations (either by weight or rate of work) which are beyond their safe capability.
  • Suitable information, training and supervision is provided for all employees engaged in manual handling tasks and that such training is recorded, and monitored.
  • Sufficient information about loads and environment is given to other employers who have control of workers on the University campus and to self-employed contractors which will enable them to meet their responsibilities under the Regulations
  • Premises outside the University campus at which employees may have to perform manual handling operations are safe and free from risk so far as is reasonably practicable

Duties of all employees undertaking manual handling

  • To follow instructions, training and the safe system of work laid down for their safety
  • To report to the manager/supervisor if this is not possible
  • To make proper use of any mechanical aids which have been provided for their safety and for which they have been trained
  • To report any faults with mechanical aids immediately to the manager/supervisor
  • To co-operate with the employer on health and safety matters and to report any accident or incident arising in the work
  • To observe their duty of care to themselves and not to put others at risk
  • To inform the manager/supervisor if they are unable to undertake their normal manual handling duties because of injury, illness or any other condition
  • Not to undertake any manual handling operation which they believe is beyond their capability



Further information available from

HSE Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, (as amended 2002)
HSE Guidance indg143 (rev2) Getting to grips with Manual Handling
The Safety Health and Environment Unit