What are the manual handling principles?

Mastering manual handling: Essential principles for workplace safety

Manual handling is a fundamental aspect of many job roles across various industries, yet it remains one of the leading causes of workplace injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. Understanding the principles of manual handling is not just about complying with regulations; it's about safeguarding the health and well-being of employees. In this blog, Rose delves into the key principles of manual handling, explores relevant legislation and regulations, and provides recommendations for best practices to ensure workplace safety.

Key facts and statistics

  • According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), manual handling injuries account for nearly a third of all workplace injuries.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) resulting from poor manual handling practices cost UK businesses millions of pounds annually in lost productivity and healthcare expenses.
  • In 2019/20, there were approximately 480,000 reported cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the UK.

Key definitions

  • Manual handling - The transporting or supporting a load, including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, or moving, by hand or bodily force.
  • Load - Refers to any object, person, or animal being lifted, lowered, pushed, pulled, carried, or moved.

Relevant legislation and regulations

  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR) - Places a legal duty on employers to assess and reduce the risks associated with manual handling activities.
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 - Require employers to ensure their employees' health, safety, and welfare, including providing adequate training and equipment for manual handling tasks.
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - Requires employers to conduct risk assessments and implement control measures to manage workplace risks, including those related to manual handling.

Best practices - Effective manual handling strategies

  • Risk assessment - Conduct thorough assessments to identify potential hazards and implement control measures to mitigate risks.
  • Training and education - Provide comprehensive training to employees on correct manual handling techniques, including proper lifting and carrying methods.
  • Use of mechanical aids - Where possible, use mechanical aids such as trolleys, hoists, or forklifts to reduce the need for manual handling.
  • Team lifts - Encourage team lifting for heavy or awkward loads to distribute the weight and reduce strain on individual workers.
  • Regular reviews - Continuously review and update manual handling procedures in line with any changes in the workplace environment or tasks.


  • Invest in bespoke manual handling training courses tailored to your organisation's needs and risks.
  • Provide refresher training at regular intervals to reinforce safe manual handling practices and ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Encourage open communication between management and employees to address any concerns or issues related to manual handling safety.


Mastering manual handling principles is crucial for promoting a safe and healthy working environment. By adhering to relevant legislation, implementing best practices, and providing comprehensive training, organisations can reduce the risk of workplace injuries and create a safety culture. Let's work together to safeguard the well-being of employees and enhance workplace productivity.

Take proactive steps to improve manual handling safety in your workplace today. Click here to explore our range of bespoke training courses tailored to meet your organisation's needs and regulatory requirements. Sign up for CPD accredited courses and training on ComplyPlus LMS™ from The Mandatory Training Group.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

Mastering manual handling: Essential principles for workplace safety - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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