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Manual Handling

Manual handling includes the lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and any other movement of a load by physical force. Tasks may involve bending and twisting, repetitive motions, carrying or lifting heavy loads, and maintaining fixed positions for a long time. As with other risks in the workplace, the first rule is to look at a way to avoid the need for manual handling in the first instance.

If done correctly manual handling should not present a risk of injury to those individuals carrying out the activity, but when done incorrectly it can contribute to musculo-skeletal problems such as back or knee injuries: manual handling injuries account for more than a third of all accidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) each year.

Risk Assessment

General Risk Assessments of work activities should identify where manual handling is required and where it presents a risk of injury. Researchers, line managers and supervisers responsible for carrying out risk assessments should consider manual handling risk as part of all of their general risk assessment process.

Specific Manual Handling Risk Assessments

Use the Manual Handling Decision TreeLink opens in a new window when, as part of the General Risk Assessment process, manual handling has been identified as a potential risk an initial manual handling risk assessment must be carried out by the relevant researcher, line manager or superviser. Where indicated, then use the University's Manual Handling Initial Assessment toolLink opens in a new window which will help you to develop controls to remove, or reduce the risk.

Should the results of such an initial assessment show that the risk is potentially significant then a detailed Manual Handling Risk Assessment must be carried out. This assessment should only be carried out by trained manual handling assessors: for more information please contact the Health and Safety DepartmentLink opens in a new window.


Staff involved in manual handling activities should be informed of good lifting practices. The "Manual Handling Awareness" training package is available for all staff and it provides guidance on good lifting practices, and, in particular, how to look after your back whilst carrying out manual handling operations. This training is suitable for delivery by those who have previously been trained as a Trainer for Manual Handling training.

Those people involved in carrying out specific Manual Handling Risk Assessments or responsible for showing others how to lift safely should be trained accordingly: Information on "Manual Handling Instructors and Assessors" training is available from the Health and Safety Department.

Manual Handling Awareness Moodle course.