Manual Handling

Manual handling relates to the moving of items either by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling. Bad manual handling techniques causes injuries, with manual handling being the single biggest cause of incidents resulting in over seven day incapacitation of workers.

The Risks

Handling heavy or awkwardly-shaped objects has the risk of causing injury, especially to your back. The weight of the item is an important factor, but many other  factors can create a risk of injury, for example the number of times you have to pick up or carry an item, the distance you are carrying it, where you are  picking it up from or putting it down (picking it up from the floor, putting it on a shelf above shoulder level) and any twisting, bending stretching or other awkward posture you may adopt while doing a task. As a result, use mechanical lifting aids wherever possible, or get help from someone else.

The local risk assessments for activities involving manual handling will identify the hazards and the evaluate the appropriateness of the control measures to be implemented. Colleagues should raise any concerns relating to manual handling with their Line Manager immediately.


The Health, Safety and Environment Team delivers a 2 hour Manual Handling Training course which provides delegates with an understanding of the risks associated with manual handling, developing a risk assessment, and ensuring that appropriate control measures are implemented.

Delegates will recognise manual handling hazards, understand the types of injury that can be caused by poor manual handling practice, and practise the best ways to handle loads to maintain a safe working environment.

Good Handling Techniques

Colleagues should consider the following techniques when undertaking any type of manual handling activity:

  • stand reasonably close to the load, feet hip-width apart, one foot slightly forward pointing in the direction you are going;
  • bend your knees and keep your back straight;
  • get a secure grip on the load;
  • breathe in before lifting as this helps to support the spine;
  • keep the load close to your body;
  • do not carry a load that obscures your vision;
  • lift slowly and smoothly;
  • avoid jerky movements;
  • avoid twisting your body when lifting or carrying a load;
  • when lifting to a height from the floor, do it in two stages;
  • when two or more people lift a load, one person must take control to co-ordinate the lift.

Online Resources

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have developed tools to help employers analyse lifting, carrying and team handling (the MAC tool and the V-MAC tool), repetitive upper limb tasks (the ART tool) and pushing  and pulling (the RAPP tool). Depending on the task, you may find it helpful to  use more than one tool, for example you may need to pick up a box of items (lifting), carry it to a workstation (carrying), then distribute the contents to other locations such as pigeon holes or a filing cabinet (repetitive movements).