MHOR Key Takeaways

Manual Handling Operations Regulations: Key Takeaways

Manual handling is a term that refers to a range of activities, including the pushing, pulling or carrying of a load. While it may seem simple to do, manual handling injuries are very common and account for over a third of all injuries that occur in UK workplaces.

It is important that anyone who regularly carries out lifting and handling operations does so safely in order to prevent injury and the loss of working days. To help with this, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002 (which we will refer to as the Manual Handling Operations Regulations) place several responsibilities on employers and employees while carrying out manual handling operations at work.

Manual handling movement

In this article, we will look at some of these requirements and the key takeaways of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.

Regulation 2

Regulation 2 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations defines 'manual handling operations' and 'load', and outlines which risks or injuries are covered by these regulations:

  • The term 'injury' refers to any injury caused by manual handling operations, such as musculoskeletal disorders. This includes any injury that occurs as a result of the external physical properties of the load, such as sharp edges, extreme temperatures or slippery surfaces.
    • The only exception to this is injuries directly caused by a toxic or corrosive substance that is being moved, as these are covered by the COSHH Regulations instead. For example, if a person is moving a bottle of hydrochloric acid, the risk of them spilling it and burning their skin is dealt with by the COSHH Regulations, not the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.
  • A load is any discrete movable object, which includes people or animals. However, tools and machinery are not considered to be a 'load' while being used for their intended purpose.
  • A manual handling operation is when human effort is involved transporting, supporting, throwing or deliberately dropping a load. These operations may be completed using any part of the body, including the hands or shoulders, and with the help of a mechanical aid.

Regulation 4(1)

Regulation 4(1) places a large number of responsibilities on employers.

Firstly, it requires them to avoid the need for employees to carry out manual handling tasks, as far as is reasonably practicable. This can be done in several ways, including redesigning the task to eliminate the need to move the load, or by moving the load using an automated or mechanical process.

If a manual handling operation cannot be avoided, then employers must carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessment in order to identify any hazards associated with the task. When assessing this risk, it is important to consider the task, the individual carrying it out, the load, and the working environment. For more information on these, click here to view our article on TILE, TILEO and LITE.

Once the risk assessment is complete, an employer must then take 'appropriate' steps to address the hazards identified, meaning that the measures they use must be practical and effective.

If you would like to learn more on how to do a risk assessment, our guide and free downloadable template can be accessed here.

Carrying out a risk assessment for a manual handling operation, and determining how to control these risks, can be complex. To help with this, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published some relevant guidance that can be viewed here.

Finally, this regulation requires employers to provide anyone who is completing a manual handling task with information on its weight and its heaviest side where appropriate and possible.

Regulation 4(2)

This regulation requires employers to keep any manual handling risk assessments up to date, and to review them if there is a major change in the task. For example, an assessment should be reviewed if there is an accident that occurred as a result of a manual handling operation in order to identify what caused it, and how it can be prevented in future.

Regulation 4(3)

Regulation 4(3) outlines what should be considered before an employee carries out a manual handling operation to reduce the risk of injury. Specifically, an employer should consider:

  • The physical suitability of the employee.
  • The clothing, footwear or other personal effects the employee is wearing.
  • The employee's knowledge and training.
  • The results of any relevant risk assessments.
  • Whether the employee is part of an at-risk group.
  • The results of any relevant health surveillance.

Regulation 5

This regulation places several responsibilities on employees. Specifically, it requires them to:

  • Take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of those around them who may be affected by their activities.
  • Co-operate with their employer to help them comply with their health and safety duties.

At Commodious, we offer a manual handling training course that can help ensure that employees understand proper manual handling technique and avoid injury. It can be viewed using the link below: