Health and safety at work

Manual Handling

Definition: A manual handling operation may be defined as "any transporting or supporting of a load (including lifting, putting down, pushing pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force."


The Manual Handling Operations Regulations require employers to:

  • Avoid: The need for hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Assess: The risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling that can't be avoided; and
  • Reduce: The risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable

When making an assessment, the following should be considered:

  • Task: does it involve bending, twisting, stooping, excessive distances, etc.
  • Individual: is the individual trained, do they need PPE, have they any pre-existing medical conditions, etc.
  • Load: take into account the size, shape (is it easy to grasp?) N.B. for the care sector you will need to take into account the resident (do they become agitated when moved?)
  • Environment: is there a lack of space, stairs, poorly-lit areas, slippery floors, etc.

Record the assessment unless it could be very easily repeated and explained at any time because it is simple and obvious.

Employees are required to:

  • use equipment provided in accordance with any information, instruction and training received
  • follow any safe systems of work
  • co-operate with their employer on health and safety matters
  • inform their employer if they identify any hazardous handling activities 


Employees shall not:

  • carry out any activity that will put themselves and / or others at risk to their health and safety
  • Carry out any Manual Handling Operation unless it has been assessed by a competent person

Downloads and useful links

Manual Handling at Work: A Brief Guide (PDF 442.9KB)

Making the Best Use of Lifting Aids (PDF 1.1MB)

What is Pushing and Pulling? (link opens in new window)