Manual Handling and Risk Assessment

Definition: any transporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.

Guidelines by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been in effect since 1992 re manual handling. The main aim of these is to make you aware of the risks involved in order to

  • avoid any manual handling operations that involve the risk of injury
  • Assess the risks adequately
  • Reduce the risks

Manual handling equipment, trolleys etc, is available in the building. Check with your floor manager or with Graham Tobasnick for requirements.

The Basic Lift

  1. Check the weight of the load, considering size, shape and grip - do you need help from another person or the use of a trolley? Is the route clear of obstruction?
  2. Stand close to the load, placing your feet either side of the load to maintain a wide, balanced base of support. If necessary, bend your hips and knees to get down to the level of the load. If no handles, get a full, firm secure grip at the upper, outer corner of the your leading foot, tilt it slightly and grip the opposite lower corner with the other hand.
  3. Keeping your back and rear arm straight, lean forward a little, pull the load firmly in contact with our body, moving your rear hand forward along the lower edge of the load. Stand up in one co-ordinated movment and be careful not to jerk the load, keeping it as close to your body as possible. Lead with your head to ensure a good back position.
  4. Reverse the lifting action, keeping your back slightly arched, tilt the load to avoid trappoing you fingers, move your feet and pivot. Do not twist.
  5. Adjust the load into a suitable position after you have lowered it.


The load that two or three people can handle together safely is less than if you add what each person can cope with alone, due to problems with grip, vision and differences in height and physical capability. However, if you do need to work in a team,

  1. plan ahead
  2. decide who is to lead
  3. make sure all know whether you are moving on, or after three!
  4. Talk throughout the move.

Pushing and Pulling

General Points:-

check the pathway is clear, and whether there are changes to the floor surface

  • gently start to push or pull
  • wear comfortable, non-slip shoes
  • keep feet apart for good balance
  • avoid stooping
  • gently stop the load
    • Note that pushing is easier on the back than pulling.
    • Take into account the speed at which you start and stop. The faster it it, the greater force that is required and the back has to work harder.

Handling while Seated

Any load you move whilst sitting should be handled with the hands between waist and shoulder height to avoid twisting, stooping and reaching. The pressure in the discs in your back is greater in sitting, so for example, if you work regularly seated at a bench or desk and have to regularly reach across or down for files or the telephone, re-organise your space to minimise the stretch. If your desk height or chair is inadequate, speak to your divisional safety co-ordinator in the first instance.