Safe manual handling at work

Reducing the risks of manual handling

To reduce the risks faced by your staff, you first need to consider whether there are any alternatives to manual handling.

You might be able to find a way of avoiding lifting or carrying loads altogether. This might involve reorganising the layout of your workplace to ensure items are stored next to where they're going to be used.

For example, storing boxes of paper near the printer or photocopier will minimise the handling required in an office. And by storing items at waist height, you could reduce the need for an employee to either bend down or stretch upwards.

You might also be able to change your working practices. For example, a delivery business might ensure boxes are loaded into vans in the correct sequence so that fewer boxes need to be moved to unload other goods during a delivery round.

Providing handling equipment

Many businesses could reduce the risks by providing simple equipment such as sack trucks or trolleys to move loads.

Depending on the circumstances and nature of your business, you might be able to provide powered equipment.

You might, for example, fit a tail lift to the back of delivery vans to make loading and unloading easier. Forklift trucks can often be used to move loads in industrial environments.

You must provide mechanical handling equipment if it's reasonably practicable to do so - ie the cost doesn't outweigh any benefits it would bring.

Introducing mechanical handling equipment into the workplace may bring new risks. See safety of workplace machinery, equipment and tools.

You can also reduce the risks caused by manual handling by training staff to lift and carry correctly so that they're less likely to suffer injury. Read train employees to lift and carry correctly.