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Manual handling is moving items using bodily force. It can occur anywhere from working in kitchens, moving items of laboratory equipment, handling items in teaching equipment, moving boxes of paper, computers and delivering items within St George's, University of London.

Poor manual handling causes a large number of injuries in the UK working population. In the 2009-2010 survey of occupational injuries and ill-health, musculosketal disorders accounted for 15% of reported injuries.

The Manual handling Operations Regulations 1992 and 2002 were introduced to reduce the number of injuries that are caused by twisted backs, torn ligaments and muscles and various other problems.

One of the best ways to avoid an injury is to avoid moving items. Often this is not possible. The next best method is to undertake a risk assessment of the process and consider various factors, such as:

  • the weight and shape of the item

  • the person who will be moving the item

  • the environment in which manual handling is taking place.

In all cases, the person undertaking the handling should do a quick assessment of the task. This will involve determining whether the item to be moved is within their physical capabilities. If you think it is beyond your capabilities, you should get additional help or use a mechanical aid. 

Guidance and resources

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a wide range of guidance to help people lift at work safely. Information on manual handling can be found in the HSE leaflet, Getting to grips with Manual Handling. The HSE has also produced a manual handling assessment chart to help you decide whether to undertake certain activities. A list of frequently asked questions on manual handling is also available.

A manual handling risk assement form (Word) have been produced for use within St George's, University of London and should be used prior to undertaking manual handling of objects for the first time. It is important that people contribute to the risk assessment so that they are able give information on thier abilities.


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