Manual Handling Assessments, Training Solutions & Action Plan

Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992), employers are required to adopt an ergonomic approach to removing or reducing the risk of manual handling injuries and ensure that systems of work and the working environment are safe. The ergonomic approach looks at manual handling as a whole, taking into account a wide range of relevant factors including the nature of the tasks, the load, the working environment and individual capability. “Manual Handling” refers to any transporting or supporting of a load including lifting, putting down, pulling, pushing, carrying, moving by hand or bodily force.

The order of priority should be:

  • Eliminate the need for manual handling, where practical

  • Provide mechanical aids to assist with the task, where practical  

  • Reduce the frequency of such tasks, to its lowest practical level

  • Reduce the load that has to be handled, to its lowest practical level  

  • Ensure all employees involved in manual handling are suitably trained for the task, where practical

What should a manual handling training course involve?

The relevant legislation is the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended). With regards to training, the guidance to the Regulations states:

  • "Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulations 10 and 13 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to provide their employees with health and safety information and training. This should be supplemented as necessary with more specific information and training on manual handling injury risks and prevention, as part of the steps to reduce risk required by regulation 4(1)(b)(ii) of the Regulations.

"The risk of injury from a manual handling task will be increased where workers do not have the information or training necessary to enable them to work safely. For example, if they do not know about any unusual characteristics of loads or about the system designed to ensure their safety during manual handling, this may lead to injury. It is essential that where, for example, mechanical handling aids are available, training is provided in their proper use.

"The provision of information and training alone will not ensure safe manual handling. The first objective in reducing the risk of injury should be to design the manual handling operations to be as safe as is reasonably practicable. This will involve improving the task, the working environment and reducing the load weight as appropriate.

Where possible the manual handling operations should be designed to suit individuals, not the other way round. Effective training has an important part to play in reducing the risk of manual handling injury. It should not be regarded as a substitute for a safe system of work.