What is the law on manual handling to protect employees?

The estimated number of days lost due to work related ill health is 38.8 million in 2019/2020. (HSE Statistics)

Labour Force Survey evidence shows around half a million work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases for the same year, accounting for over 22% (8.9 million) of sick days and, on average, 18.4 days off work per person. 

Any activity that requires an individual to lift, move or support a load is classified as a manual handling task. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 define manual handling as ‘any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or by bodily force’.

​Manual handling legal obligations for the employer

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 are the main piece of legislation dealing with manual handling. It sets out the main duties for employers and employees in the workplace.

The order of controls contained within the regulation explain that first you need to avoid manual handling where possible. If the moving and handling is not avoidable then you need to assess the risk of injury associated with the task.

There isn’t a weight limit for manual handling within the regulations. Instead a manual handling risk assessment of the tasks should be carried out and control measures should be set to ensure the safety and health of employees.

Employees also have a responsibility to

  • follow safe systems of work
  • make proper use of equipment provided for their safety
  • co-operate with their employer on health and safety matters
  • inform the employer if they identify hazardous manual handling activities
  • take care to ensure their activities do not put themselves or others at risk.

The Health and Safety at Work act 1974

This act identifies:

  • The duties which employers have towards employees and members of the public.
  • The responsibilities employees have towards themselves and each other.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations 1999

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) are built upon the general duties within the HSWA, by adding additional and more specific health and safety requirements.

The majority of the duties stated in the MHSWR fall on the employer.

The risks associated with manual handling

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that over a third of workplace injuries are caused by manual handling.

Manual handling is a major cause of musculoskeletal conditions or disorders, also known as MSDs.

The musculoskeletal system consists of bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, joints and other connecting tissues that give shape to the body. From these, derive the support, stability, and movement effortlessly performed by the human body.

Injuries from poor manual handling techniques include:

  • Repetitive strain injuries of various sorts
  • Pain and Injuries to limbs and joints
  • Chronic body pain
  • Hernias

What does manual handling entail?

The aim of a manual handling course is to teach learners how to safely complete tasks where manual handling is required. It would also cover the correct ways to lift and reduce the risk of injury by teavhing learners how to identify risks.

A good manual handling course would provide:

  • Understand reasons for safe manual handling
  • Understand how manual handling risk assessments contribute to improving health and safety
  • Understand the principles, types of equipment and testing requirements associated with manual handling safety
  • be able to apply safe manual handling principles

Manual Handling Online Training

To safeguard your staff welfare, we recommend our Manual Handling Online Training Course.

Our CPD Certified online manual handling course takes 35 minutes and costs just £15 + VAT. Topics covered include defining manual handling, the main laws governing manual handling in the workplace, the key hazards and risks associated with manual handling and the main ways to avoid or reduce the risks that manual handling presents.

Our online courses can be completed on any device that can access the internet and includes a free downloadable and printable certificate on completion.

We hope you found the above information useful. Should you have any questions, doubts or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Call us on 01344 830015

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