Every year, 300,000 people in the UK suffer from back pain due to manual handling accidents. Damage to the back, neck or spine can lead to extreme pain, temporary incapacity or permanent injury.
Employers are required, among other things, to reduce risk of injury from manual handling operations to “the lowest level reasonably practicable”.

One way to reduce the risk of serious injury is through providing information and training to employees that will help those lifting loads to do so safely and correctly. Employees should not be asked to engage in lifting and carrying heavy or large loads without the proper training.


  • Employers should assess all manual handling activities and aim to avoid them when possible.
  • Employers should provide mechanical aids for larger loads where possible, such as forklifts or pallet trucks.
  • It is important to know your capabilities and only tackle jobs you can handle, otherwise seek help when necessary.
  • Always check for a clear walkway with good lighting to the work area and establish the weight of the load before starting to lift.
  • Wearing gloves can provide protection against cuts, and safety boots will protect you from falling loads.
  • You must carry out a trial lift before committing to the load. This can be checked by rocking the load from side to side, then attempt lifting the load a small way to get a feel for the weight.


Good handling techniques

  • Stand reasonably close to the load with your feet at hip-width apart, one foot slightly forward pointing in the direction you are going.
  • Bend your knees and slightly curve your back, avoid a deep squat when starting a lift.
  • Get a secure grip on the load.
  • A good lifting technique uses your legs and not your back.
  • Keep the load close to your body but do not carry a load that obscures your vision.
  • Lift slowly and smoothly, avoiding jerky movements.
  • Avoid twisting your body when lifting or carrying a load.
  • When lifting to a height from the floor, make the lift in two stages if possible.
  • When two or more people lift a load, one person must give directions to co-ordinate the lift.


We have created a downloadable poster summarising the point above you can print and display in your workplace to remind everyone of the hazards and what to do to reduce the risk of Manual Handling at work. 


Why not register for our Manual Handling eLearning course, or half day in person session (delivered at your site or office) to ensure you and your colleagues stay safe at work. 


Click here to book your Manual Handling training course now!


Need more information: 

The HSE’s manual handling information hub is a useful starting point if you need any more information, it contains links to several useful summaries, research reports, and case studies. Some of these are listed below as a quick reference. 



Here is a link to the text of the legislation that cover this topic: 

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