Manual handling guidance for UK businesses

Manual handling can be called upon in any business. If you’re in the construction industry load-bearing is likely part of your day-to-day duties. If you’re based in an office it could the odd box that needs moving from time to time. Regardless of the situation, there is a risk of injury if load-bearing isn’t done correctly.

It’s a prominent issue too. According to the Health & Safety Executive, manual handling is responsible for over a third of all workplace injuries.

What is manual handling?

When we talk about manual handling activities, we’re referring to a variety of ways in which employees either transport or support an object. According to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, an ‘object’ can include both animate – like people or animals – and inanimate – tools, boxes or furniture, for example – items.

The below activities constitute manual handling:

  • Lifting
  • Holding
  • Setting down
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Carrying


Why is manual handling safety important?

First and foremost, good manual handling technique is essential to ensure the safety of your employees. If not done properly, manual handling can cause two types of injuries:

  • Musculoskeletal: if employees continually use an off the cuff technique, they could gradually develop musculoskeletal problems. Generally speaking, these can be split into three categories: neck and upper limb disorders; lower limb disorders; and back pain and/or injuries.
  • Acute trauma: sudden accidents – like dropping an item or slipping while pushing an object, for example – can cause cuts, bruises, fractures or sprains, to name just a few.


Manual handling injuries can occur anywhere in the workplace. Things like heavy manual labour and repetitive movements can all increase the risk of injuries associated with manual handling.

Moving and handling

Your duty as an employer is to avoid tasks that involve manual handling and moving heavy loads in the first place.

When it comes to avoiding manual handling, here are some things to consider:

  • Do you really need to move the object in the first place? Can whatever job you need the object for, be completed where it’s already situated?
  • Can you use machinery to help you move the object, instead of having an employee move it?

If avoiding the task isn’t possible, then it’s essential that a competent person should carry out a moving and handling-specific manual handling assessment and make sure that it’s reviewed regularly.

Ultimately, it’s on you as an employer to make sure you’ve identified the risks, written a through manual handling policy and communicated it, and you’ve implemented proper training for your employees.

Guidance for manual handling

When it comes to a safe manual handling technique, TILE is a handy acronym to serve as a reminder about the best ways to reduce the risk of injury.

TILE stands for task, individual, load and environment. Let’s take a look at what each of those terms means…


Consider each manual handling task – will it involve lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling? How many people will be needed to perform the task? Will they require a recovery period when they’re done? Think about the kind of movements involved – will they be repetitive or strenuous? Will it require a lot of bodily force?


Who will be carrying out the task? Do they have any health problems or exciting conditions that might prevent them from carrying the load? Do they have a disability that may affect them? Are they pregnant? Are they pregnant? If you answer yes to any of these, your employee may need assistance, or the job may need to be re-assigned.


Assess the object that’s being moved, bearing in mind things like is it: heavy? Sharp? Hot? Cold? Tricky to grip? Likely to move?


Look at the areas the object is being moved from and to – as well as the route in between. Make sure there’s nothing that could obstruct the journey, like space constraints; uneven, unstable or slippery flooring; trip hazards; and poor lighting, for example.

Keep calm and carry on

Whether you need help in drafting a manual handling policy and conducting a manual handling risk assessment, or you want expert manual handling training, Citation is backed by a qualified, competent team of Health & Safety experts, to make sure you and your business don’t slip up.

Our advisors are available on the phone 24/7, 365 days a year to make sure you have the support you need, whenever you need it.

You’ll also receive instant access to Atlas, our cloud-based management platform. This gives you access to over 1,000 risk assessment and method statement templates along with digital storage, distribution and email reminders for all of your most important Health & Safety documents.


Why choose Citation?

Citation has over 20 years’ experience in helping businesses manage their Health & Safety. That means you’re working with experienced and dedicated consultants.

We’ll equip you with all the knowledge you need to be able to produce your own documentation and support you with managing the process as your business changes and grows.

If you’d like more information on managing your Health & Safety, get in touch with the team today.

Need some help with your manual handling?

Pop in your details and we'll call you straight back

We'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap