Manual handling at work
A brief guide
This leaflet describes what you, as an employer, may need to do to protect your employees from the risk of injury through manual handling tasks in the workplace. It will also be useful to employees and their representatives.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended in 2002
(‘the Regulations’) apply to a wide range of manual handling activities, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying. The load may be either animate, such as a person or an animal, or inanimate, such as a box or a trolley.
What’s the problem?
This is a web-friendly version of leaflet INDG143(rev3), published 11/12
Incorrect manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work. It causes work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which account for over a third of all workplace injuries. (For the latest statistics, visit the HSE web page, www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/musculoskeletal/index.htm.) Manual handling injuries can happen anywhere people are at work – on farms and building sites, in factories, offices, warehouses, hospitals, banks, laboratories, and while making deliveries. Heavy manual labour, awkward postures, manual materials handling, and previous or existing injury are all risk factors in developing MSDs.
There is more information and advice on MSDs on the HSE website, including advice on managing back pain at work.
Taking the action described here will help prevent these injuries and is likely to be cost effective. But you can’t prevent all MSDs, so it is still essential to encourage early reporting of symptoms.
What should I do about it?
Consider the risks from manual handling to the health and safety of your employees – this guidance will help you to do this. If there are risks, the Regulations apply. Consult and involve the workforce. Your employees and their representatives know first hand what the risks in the workplace are. They can probably offer practical solutions to controlling them.
The Regulations 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 can’t be avoided; and reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable.
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Health and Safety
These points are explained in detail under ‘Avoiding manual handling’ and
‘Assessing and reducing the risk of injury’.
Employees have duties too. They should:
follow systems of work in place for their safety; use equipment provided for their safety properly; cooperate with their employer on health and safety matters; inform their employer if they identify hazardous handling activities; take care to make sure their activities do not put others at risk.
Avoiding manual handling
Check whether you need to move it at all
■■ Does a large workpiece really need to be moved, or can the activity
(eg wrapping or machining) be done safely where the item already is?
Can raw materials be delivered directly to their point of use?
Consider automation, particularly for new processes
Think about mechanisation and using handling aids. For example:
a conveyor; a pallet truck; an electric or hand-powered hoist; a lift truck.
But beware of new hazards from automation or mechanisation.
■■ automated plant still needs cleaning, maintenance etc;
■■ lift trucks must be suited to the work and have properly trained operators.
Controlling the risks
As part of managing the health and safety of your business, you must control the risks in your workplace. To do this you need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether you are doing enough to prevent harm. This process is known as a risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out. A risk assessment is about identifying and taking sensible