According to the Health and Safety Executive, “Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are the most common cause of occupational ill health in Great Britain, currently affecting 1 million people a year and costing society £5.7 billion. MSDs affect the muscles, joints, tendons and other parts of the musculoskeletal system.” The figures above put into context the pressing need for rules and advice on manual handling. Even with the advice in place there are still too many people suffering and costing billions through bad lifting, carrying and lowering practices, both alone and in teams. There are a number of accepted ways of lifting objects based on multiple factors such as its weight, ease of grip, the height lifted, the surface of the floor and the amount of twisting required. Assessors will observe the actions and give scores for the individual elements which will combine to form an overall assessment of risk, for both individual lifters and teams. There are also “psychosocial risk factors” involved with lifting, such as high workloads, amount of repetition, tight deadlines and a lack of individual control of the working situation and methods. Assessments also take into account the individuals doing the lifting and carrying, as we are all physically different. In some cases the advice will be that objects should not be lifted and/or carried by hand at all, and that machines should be used instead. Alternatively, the score might merit a change in one of the environmental factors, psychosocial risk factors or an adaptation of the nature of the objects themselves. Manual handling risk assessments are an important element of employee welfare and need to be given a good deal of attention. Employers must not assume that employees will be able to work out how to lift things because it is natural; even lifting relatively light things can cause problems if it’s done in the wrong way and in the wrong conditions. It might seem like interference (and even your staff might share this opinion), but there really is no substitute for making sure employees get lifting and carrying right from the start, and the only way that can be done is through assessment of your particular circumstances.