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Your guide to manual handling

construction worker carrying wood - manual handling

Picking up a box or carrying a load may be part of your daily routine at work. You may be asked to carry out a task that could mean lifting and moving awkward goods or objects. The way in which you lift even a relatively light load can result in unexpectedly pulling a muscle or putting your back out.

Manual handling injuries can occur anywhere people are at work – on building sites, farms, in factories, offices, warehouses, laboratories, banks, hospitals or while making deliveries and there is always a potential risk of causing yourself harm and injury while lifting, supporting or carrying a load. The Health and Safety Statistics Annual Report 2013/14 shows that 24% of the most common, non-fatal injuries reported to employers are caused by handling, lifting or carrying.

Employers’ responsibilities

Your employer has a legal responsibility to protect you from the risk of an injury caused by manual handling. Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended 2002), employers are required to:

  • Avoid the need for hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling, which cannot be avoided
  • Reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable

An employer can be considered to have breached their “duty of care” owed to you as an employee if they “failed to do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to keep you safe from harm.”

If you do suffer an injury caused by a manual handling accident, you may need intensive hospital treatment followed by weeks of physiotherapy. In some cases, you can be left with persistent back or other problems and be no longer able to fully return to work. Further difficulties can arise from the loss of earnings and subsequent pension rights.

Your Legal Friend has an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation and over 30 years of experience in successfully managing workplace compensation claims. We can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you make your case and secure the best possible settlement. 

Is there a correct lifting technique?

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines state that there is no single correct way to lift. The technique for lifting will depend on various factors including the weight and size of the item. Instructions and training in good handling technique should be appropriate to the particular task, situation or individual circumstances under which the manual handling takes place.

Types of manual handling

Manual handling usually consists of:

  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Lowering
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Supporting 

Risk assessments

Manual handling jobs are usually categorised as:

  • Low risk
  • Medium risk
  • High risk

An assessment guide for evaluating the category of risk will depend on:

  • Weight of the load and the repetition rate of the lifting operation
  • Horizontal distance between the hands and the lower back
  • Position of the operative’s hands at the start of the lift and as the lift progresses
  • Torso twisting and sideways bending
  • If the movements of operator’s movements are unhindered
  • Grip on the load
  • Floor surface
  • Other environmental factors

An employer is responsible for your health and safety in the workplace and must:

  • Carry out a risk assessment and inform you of any risks involved in the task
  • Provide proper training
  • Provide adequate manpower and organise the work appropriately
  • Provide suitable lifting equipment if needed

If you have to do any manual handling at work, which cannot be avoided, by law, your employer has to take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk to the lowest practicable level. Some workers may have particular requirements, such as new and young workers, new or expectant mothers, people with disabilities, migrant workers, temporary workers, and home or lone workers. 

Manual handling training

A vital part of an employer’s duty of care to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in all manual handling activities is the provision of specific training. Information and instructions should cover:

  • Manual handling risk factors and how injuries can occur
  • How to carry out safe manual handling, including good handling technique
  • Appropriate systems of work for the individual’s tasks and environment
  • Use of mechanical aids – such as hoists and hydraulic lifts
  • Practical work to allow the trainer to identify and put right anything the trainee is not doing safely

Training to carry out manual handling tasks should also identify:

  • Unsuitable loads
  • Poor working conditions 

How Your Legal Friend can help you

As experienced personal injury specialists, we have over 30 years of experience in managing compensation cases involving accidents at work.  We are committed to guiding you through every step of the process and ensuring that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by specialist solicitors with a record of success in this field.

Our in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you succeed in making your claim.  We can:

  • work with you on a guaranteed no win, no fee basis
  • help you with medical treatment, rehabilitation and your return to work
  • ensure care and support services are available for the most serious injuries
  • advise you on how to claim for DWP benefits to help you along the way
  • skilfully manage your compensation claim to include:
    • payment for the pain and suffering caused by your injury
    • any financial losses you’ve incurred already, such as lost wages, travel and medical expenses
    • any expenses you may need in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 274 6166 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.