Manual Handling

  • Health & Safety
Two men in helmets looking at a piece of machinery
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Manual handling is a common task in business, but it poses health & safety issues for your employees. Our guide explains the legal requirements you need to follow.

Lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling… It’s hard to find a sector whose workers don’t encounter manual handling in one form or another.

Despite sometimes being seen as a low-risk activity in most workplaces, manual handling accounts for 1 in 3 of all workplace injuries.

To put it another way, that’s 8.9 million working days lost, and 480,000 workers suffering from musculoskeletal disorders in the last year alone.

You might think that only heavy lifting can cause injury. In fact, it’s the lighter items, handled repetitively, that do the real damage.

Consider the thought process you put yourself through when you lift something heavy – you plan where it’s going, you judge the weight before you lift.

When you lift smaller items, you tend to be less vigilant with technique. You’re more likely to adopt contorted or awkward postures, which can put you at higher risk of injury.

What is manual handling?

It involves any activity with staff members transporting or supporting a load by hand or bodily force. This includes

  • Putting objects down.
  • Moving items.

Excessive lifting and straining can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in your workforce. Other manual handling hazards include:

  • Repeated tasks involving high forces.
  • Awkward postures.
  • Repetitive movements.
  • Exposure to severe vibrations.
  • Handling unstable loads.

All of these can lead to injuries, mentally and physically, which could result in an employment tribunal against your business.

That’s the worst-case scenario, but one you can avoid by following the correct laws.

What are the regulations on manual handling?

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 place a duty on employers to consider the elimination of manual handling activities first and foremost.
This includes lifting and carrying or pushing and pulling of loads in the workplace.

Manual handling is always subject to the individual carrying out the task, so training is vital. The regulations require that workers are fully trained on good technique.

Under current manual handling legislation, you’ll have various factors to keep in mind when considering how your employees go about moving items around your working environment.

There are certain steps to consider for any object that requires moving:

  • The amount of twisting, turning, stretching, or bending an employee will have to do.
  • How far an individual will have to carry a load.
  • The weight of an object.

You need to keep this in mind due to the potential for back injury, which is a common reason for many employees miss work.

Along with risk assessments to understand where there are problems in your working environment, you can train your workforce for awareness about safety during any physical tasks.

Are there weight limits for manual handling?

Under MHOR there are no specifications for the absolute limit an employee can lift. In other words, British law doesn’t identify a weight limit.

But you should be aware of a common manual handling maximum weight recommendation. A single employee can manage, if they’re in good physical condition, a load of 25 kg.

That’s The suggested for lifting and setting down an object at waist height is a load of 25 kg.

Some businesses may consider a “no lifting” policy, but MHOR (Manual Handling Operations Regulations) doesn’t endorse this. Manual handling is a common occurrence in many businesses—the best approach is to ensure employees know what to do.

The HSE has manual handling assessment charts you can look to for guidance.

How do you control manual handling risks?

A manual handling risk assessment alone isn’t enough. It’s important to look farther to the context of the operation itself.

Look at the worker’s manual handling training, experience, how often they perform the task, the variety of manual handling tasks, and the resources available to you.

The risks of musculoskeletal injury are so context-specific, you need to break down tasks carefully.

One of the most enduring tools to judge this is TILE, aka Task / Individual / Load / Environment:


If the operation is complicated, it may need a planned approach. And if it involves greater distances, it may require excessive effort and an awkward posture.


Access their physical capabilities and limitations. Check if they have any injuries, medical conditions, or disabilities, as this may affect their ability to lift or carry.

Ensure they have received the correct training beforehand.


If the load is heavy, make sure its manageable to handle. And if there are any sharp edges, take the proper precautions to handle.


Make sure the conditions are reasonable and lit well. To carry out manual handling tasks, there shouldn’t be any space constraints or obstructions.

Manual handling training for your business

Training procedures are important. They help make your employees aware of how to go about manual tasks properly.

The Health & Safety at Work Act indicates you must provide your employees with this training. This is particularly the case for:

  • Warehouses and factories.
  • Delivery drivers.
  • Office environments.
  • Construction sites.
  • Loading and unloading tasks.
  • Manual labouring roles.

Get expert manual handling help with Peninsula

Manual handling injuries aren’t the result of a single, definable accident.

These injuries build up over time, frustrated by poor technique, not enough training and a lack of planning or organisation of the work.

If you need access risk assessment templates to fit your division and easily adjustable to fit the task, speak to one of our experts.

Get in touch today; or use our call back form to arrange for us to get in touch at a time that is convenient for you.

Call us on 0800 028 2420


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a woman looking stressed at a desk with paperwork in front of her


    Employee Burnout

    Read our guide where we'll discuss what employee burnout is, the causes of it, and how to prevent it from happening in your company.

    Peninsula Team Peninsula Team
    • Occupational health
  • two women stood up giving a presentation, laughing in front of a note board and other women


    Neurodiversity in the Workplace

    In this guide, we'll look at what neurodiversity is, different types of conditions, and how to provide support for neurodiverse employees.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Occupational health
  • a welding worker


    Welding Risk Assessment

    In this guide, we'll discuss safety hazards, risk management, and adequate control measures for welding.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Risk Assessment
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and health & safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.

International sites

© 2023 Peninsula Business Services Limited. Registered Office: The Peninsula, Victoria Place, Manchester, M4 4FB. Registered in England and Wales No: 1702759. Peninsula Business Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of non-investment insurance contracts.

ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited company.
The Sunday Times - Top Track 250.
Glassdoor 2018 Best Places To Work.