What Does AARR and CoG Stand For in Manual Handling?

AARR and CoG are initialisms used within health and safety guidance, training and documentation to refer to basic procedures to help you lift and carry things safely. So what do AARR and CoG stand for, what could they mean to you, and how should they be carried out?

What does CoG mean in manual handling? CoG stands for Centre of Gravity, and it refers to the centre of your body's mass. Understanding where your CoG is when lifting, and shifting the weight you are lifting accordingly, helps you lift heavy objects, safely.

What does AARR mean in manual handling?
AARR stands for:

  • Assess
  • Avoid
  • Review
  • Reduce

Following these 4 aspects of lifting help you and others around you lift things safely.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about CoG and AARR. We will discuss what they both mean in detail, allowing you to properly lift heavy objects in your workplace or home. This is in accordance with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992), which is the guidance provided by the government for manual handling, and the risks involved.

What Does AARR Stand For in Manual Handling?

AARR is an initialism used to refer to the core concepts of keeping us all safe when lifting heavy objects. Understanding and following these key concepts can allow you to assess common risks and how to avoid harm in completing a manual lifting task. 

Many careers involve lifting regularly, such as warehouse operatives or delivery drivers to name a few. In these cases, you will find yourself engaging with the following principles many times during your working day.

As a part of the management team for these services, as well as many others, you will find yourself needing to know these rules and carry out the necessary assessments by law. 


Your first assessment of the task should be on whether it needs to be completed in the first place. Think:

  • Does this task need to be performed at all?
  • Does not moving it present any current risk to safety? Might the conditions on-site change to help me or others carry this item?
  • Can I get assistance in carrying this item?
  • If not, might it be better to have someone more suitable or capable carry this item? This suitability should be a consideration of mental and physical capabilities to carry out the task.
  • Can automated or mechanical assistance be brought in under reasonable conditions to eliminate any manual labour by yourself or others where you think a risk may be present? Bear in mind that this comes with additional risks which need to be considered.


You should assess the risks involved with carrying any heavy object that can’t be avoided. It is also considered good practice to make sure that your full workforce is involved with risk assessments as different fields have different viewpoints on assessing risks. These assessments should take the form of:

  • The object that needs lifting. Might it shift and cause instability when lifting? Does the shape play a part in its weight distribution? Is the packaging that contains the item likely to change shape once lifted?
  • Your environment when lifting and the space you are moving into. Are there any trip hazards, height or other space restrictions in the area where you are lifting or moving into?
  • Do the clothes or equipment you are using form their own hazards in handling the object? Loose clothing or harnesses may snag and cause a hindrance. Ill-fitting gloves cause your grasp to slip or become unstable throughout your journey with the item.
  • How often do you lift, and how much physical work is being imparted to your body? You will lose strength over time, so your ability to carry larger objects will diminish throughout the course of your day.

With this in mind, you should make separate assessments for people who may be more susceptible to the risks of handling objects over time. This further assessment should be considered for, but be not limited to:

  • Inexperienced, new or young workers
  • Older people
  • Those people who are returning to work because of a leave of absence caused by illness or injury. This would be particularly worthy of note if they have any respiratory illnesses or injuries to their legs, arms or backs
  • Pregnant workers or those who have recently given birth
  • People with preexisting disabilities either in a physical or mental capacity. This would be assessed between you and them on a case-to-case basis.

As the person carrying out the assessment on behalf of yourself or others, you should take into account the duress you or your coworkers might be under if they are pushed to meet deadlines or timeframes that are ill-fitted to the task at hand. Many injuries are due to people being pushed to work in an unsafe manner.


By following the above guidelines, you will be able to reduce the risks to yourself and the people around you when manually handling objects.

This is, of course, the intended outcome of your assessments, either as a member of the team or as the leader of the team.


Any assessment carried out in the workplace should have a review of the procedures that have taken place to assess issues encountered along the way. If there weren’t any risks to health and safety, then what went right? Thinking further, what could be improved upon next time, ensuring the health and happiness of your co-workers?

The following team members should see the review stage as an opportunity to help them going forward:

Team Leader

It is through careful reviews of workplace procedures that can benefit you as a team leader, improving efficiency and team allocation in future instances of manual lifting. Allow due process for your team members to come to you if they are feeling unsure or uncomfortable with the manual handling they have just carried out. Stresses that occur in manual labour aren’t always visible, and it is sometimes only by listening to your team members that you can fully complete your assessments.

Team Member

As a team member, or the member of the team that has been tasked with the manual handling of objects, you can use this opportunity to bring in any health risks that you encountered, whilst also offering feedback on how you felt physically and mentally with carrying out the task you were set.

Getting to grips with these principles will help you and others carry out any future lifting efficiently and safely. HSEdocs offers an Online Manual Handling Course which can be completed within 2 hours and will allow you to carry out these assessments legally. It costs £4.99 and is essential for anyone wanting to get accredited with a manual handling certificate.

What Does CoG Stand For in Manual Handling?

CoG stands for ‘Centre of Gravity’ and is a term used in manual handling to refer to you and the item you are carrying’s centre of mass. Understanding your CoG when lifting is essential to help you do so safely for a number of reasons, which we will consider below. 

Why is Understanding Centre of Gravity Important To Consider in Manual Handling?

Your CoG is essential to help you maintain balance when completing any physical activity. Under normal circumstances, your central nervous system takes charge of your balance through the Vestibular System which is found in your inner ear. This system, in tandem with your vision for reference, keeps you upright under typical conditions by working together and creating a set of standards by which your body operates. 

When lifting something heavy, these conditions are no longer the same. You need to use extra muscle in different areas of your body to stay upright, and sometimes your vision is blocked by the thing you are carrying. This can often lead to a fall, slip or spill.

Falls, Slips or Spills 

Falls can be the result when your CoG isn’t adjusted to the addition of the weight you are carrying. Proper foot placement and posture should be practised at all times to prevent falls when lifting from the ground. Make sure to have a clear area of movement ahead of you when lifting to prevent falls.

If you are responsible for team members who could be involved in a slip, trip or fall, or want help assessing and eliminating hazards in the workplace then complete our Online Course. It should take you between 45 minutes to an hour to complete and gives you a recognised certificate upon completion.

This course will cover:

  • 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, such as how the spine functions, and potential injuries.


Injury usually occurs during the initial moving stages of someone's lift, causing excess strain on their back, leg or arm muscles. Disc prolapses or disc slips are some of the more common, serious injuries incurred when lifting, however, lower back pain can result from repeated lifts if you don’t take your centre of gravity into account.

Dislocated shoulders or knees can also be the result of physical lifting. This again can be caused by excessive stress on individual muscles and joints due to poor CoG, or one person lifting too much on their own.

Online Manual Handling Training From HSE Docs

Falls in the workplace contributed to a reported 626,713 injuries during 2021/22 in the U.K. Around three-quarters of these injuries resulted in the member(s) of staff involved being off of work for a week or more.

It would not only be within the interests of those involved with lifting but also their employers to ensure best practices when manually handling objects. It could be your legal obligation as an employer to be trained in manual handling, so you should get accredited today.

HSEDocs has a quick and simple Online Course, which, when completed, results in the necessary certification for manual handling.