Manual Handling in the workplace

In the workplace, manual handling is responsible for over a third of injuries, and  is most often associated with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are caused by repetitive stress. This blog outlines the 4 key areas that can help you manage your company's approach to manual handling.

So, what are the 4 key areas of manual handling that you should be aware of? The 4 key areas of consideration for manual handling are the task, individual, load, and environment, and are often referred to using the acronym TILE. These pillars take into account a multitude of factors specific to each manual handling task in order for you to accurately assess risk levels.

Keep reading to understand the risks associated with manual handling. In addition, understand how you can make sure your employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate their work environment safely. We cover exactly what manual handling is, why it is so critical, and the steps you must take to comply with legislation.


The 4 Key Considerations For Manual Handling

Various work-related activities are covered under the term manual handling, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, and carrying. In layman's terms, manual handling refers to any activity that can lead to injury if not performed properly.

Whenever there is a potential for injury in a manual handling task, you will need to conduct a manual handling assessment. This will allow you to identify key components of the operation and advise you on how to control them. Often called TILE, an assessment considers the task, the individual, the load, and the environment.

We've put together a quick-start guide for carrying out an initial risk assessment using the TILE system:

1 Task

You should first determine what the task is, and whether the activity requires twisting, stooping, bending, travelling, pushing, pulling, sudden movements of the load, team handling, or sitting.

2 Individual

It is necessary to take into account that individuals' physical capabilities vary, and it is imperative to determine the physical capability of each individual before you begin a task. Any employee with a known disability or injury should be evaluated with special consideration.

3 Load

How heavy is the load? Is it hot or cold? Is it difficult to grasp? Is it secure? All of these questions need to be answered to assess the difficulty of the task at hand.

4 Environment

The working environment may increase a person's risk of injury so it's critical to pay attention to it. Before you begin, be aware of floor conditions (e.g. is the floor wet?), space limitations, dim lighting, poor ventilation, and poor weather conditions.


What Counts as Manual Handling?

Any task in which one or more employees need to move or support a load manually is considered manual handling. A load like this can lead to injuries, especially back injuries and, as such, employers must make every effort to reduce the risk of workplace injuries. Among other things, this includes ensuring employees use appropriate manual handling techniques, such as correct carrying, lifting, and other types of movement. In addition, they should be able to carry out their own risk assessment and management.

Although risks are present across all industries, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction have the highest levels of manual handling risks due to the volume and nature of these jobs.


The Importance of Manual Handling Training at Work

It is crucial to train employees in proper manual handling techniques and training, as poor techniques and training may lead to staff being off sick due to strain-related injuries, negatively impacting your bottom line. According to the Health and Safety Executive, an estimated 38.8 million working days were lost in 2019/20 due to work-related ill health and injuries at work.

In addition to the potential risks to employee health, incorrect manual handling practices can damage your company's finances, reputation, and operational performance. These risks are all too real and employers who fail to provide proper training have been subject to substantial fines, so as the saying goes, it really is better to be safe than sorry.


Is Manual Handling Training a Legal Requirement?

It is the employer's legal responsibility to provide manual handling training to all UK employees as part of their health and safety training. A manual handling course must be completed by all employees in accordance with the Manual Handling Regulations 1992.

Not only is manual handling training mandatory, but under the MHOR, employers are also required to conduct a sufficient and appropriate assessment of the risks of their employees for any manual handling task presenting a risk of injury.

Fortunately, manual handling training is simple to organise and can be delivered online which is greatly appreciated as we navigate an increasingly remote world.


HSE Docs Online Manual Handling Training

Our online training courses start at only £4.99, making them a cost-effective way to ensure all of your employees are properly trained and certified. All certificates are valid for three years and are recognised throughout the United Kingdom by both the public and private sectors.

During the online manual handling course, you will learn the essential disciplines that are needed for understanding and mastering proper handling techniques, including:

  • The dangers and risks associated with manual handling and the importance of using the correct techniques.
  • What are the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, and why were they introduced?
  • An understanding of appropriate manual handling, accident rates, and injuries sustained.
  • Proper handling and lifting techniques.
  • Selecting the appropriate mechanical aid if needed, knowing their safe working limits, and practising the basic visual checks before use.
  • Postural awareness, how the spine functions, and potential injuries.

When you complete the course, you will receive an instantly downloadable training certificate that is recognised by Environmental Health Officers and local authorities.

If you have any questions regarding our online manual handling training courses, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here or by giving us a call on 0800 933 61 61.


Free Download: Manual Handling Poster

We have put together a free Manual Handling Poster for your workplace that you can download to serve as a visual reminder. Our Manual Handling Posters are not intended to replace adequate training, however they do serve as a helpful reminder of some key safety aspects to keep in mind when carrying out manual handling tasks.