Frequently Asked Manual Handling Questions

Below is a list of the most frequently asked Manual Handling questions esky receives;

  1. What is the maximum weight a person can be asked to lift?
  2. What constitutes a Manual Handling operation?
  3. What are my responsibilities as an employer under the law?
  4. What is a Risk Assessment?
  5. How do I assess Risks in my workplace?
  6. What Risk factors must be considered in a Risk Assessment?
  7. How can manual handling be avoided?
  8. Do employees have responsibilities?
  9. I share my work place. Do I have to do anything?
  10. The work I do varies a lot. Should I do anything different?


Q.  What is the maximum weight a person can be asked to lift?

A.  Currently there is not a specific maximum weight as different people are classed as having different capabilities.  While weight is ultimately a significant factor, there are other elements which are important. It is for this reason why the employer must undertake a Risk Assessment to establish safe parameters for all manual handling tasks.


Q. What constitutes a Manual Handling operation?

A. Manual Handling is any task involving supporting or transporting any load by human effort. This includes the following actions;

                - Pushing with hands, shoulders or torso

                - Putting something down

                - Carrying

                - Pulling a load

                - Holding or supporting something in a static position

                - Lifting


Q. What are my responsibilities as an employer under the law?

A. Every employer must remove the need for employees to undertake hazardous manual handling activities. When this is not reasonably practically, steps must be taken to reduce the risk as much as possible. In order to achieve this a risk assessment must be written so that appropriate risk reductions measures can be implemented.

The employer also has the duty to, when possible, provide information about the load. This includes the total weight of each load and the heaviest side, if the centre of gravity is not positioned centrally.


Q. What is a Risk Assessment?

A. A Risk Assessment is an examination of which activities at work could harm people. You can then identify if you have enough precautions to prevent an accidents or whether you need to do more to prevent harm. Everyone who comes into contact with your business, including employees or members of the public, have the right to be protected from harm caused because of a lack of reasonable control measures.

Accidents can ruin lives and affect your businesses if output is lost, equipment is broken, insurance costs increase or you are required to go to court.

You are legally required to assess risks in your workplace so that implement plans to control risks.


Q. How do I assess Risks in my workplace?

A. There are 5 steps to assessing the risks in your workplace.

                Step 1 – Indentify the hazards

                Step 2 – Decide who is at harm

                Step 3 – Evaluate any Risks and establish any precautions

                Step 4 – Record finds and implement any findings

                Step 5 – Review results and adapt if needed.


Q. What Risk factors must be considered in a Risk Assessment?

A.  Factors covered by the Risk Assessment can fall into the following categories;

The Tasks 

  • Holding or handling loads away from the body.
  • Awkward movements such as twisting or stooping
  • Excessive lowering or lifting distances
  • Excessive carrying distances, pushing or pulling
  • Sudden movements of loads

The Load

  • Heavy weights
  • Bulky or difficult to hold loads
  • Unstable loads – beware of contents that may shift
  • Loads that may be damaging to hold. E.g. Hot, cold, sharp or slippery loads

The Working Environment

  • Changes in floor levels
  • Trailing wires
  • Vehicle routes
  • Rough or Slippery floor surfaces               

Individual Capability

  • Lack of understanding or knowledge. E.g. New or young members of staff
  • Physical incapabilities as a result of health or mental conditions
  • Whether the individual is pregnancy


Q. How can manual handling be avoided?

A. Mechanical aids are a prime example of ways to avoid manual handing tasks. The following are some of the most common mechanical aids;

Conveyor belts

Pallet Trucks

Electric Hoists

Wheeled Trolleys


Q. Do employees have responsibilities?

A. Yes. Every employee has a legal responsibility to cooperate with their employer’s efforts to improve health and safety, for example they must wear personal protective equipment if it is provided.) Perhaps most importantly they must be vigilant for each other.


Q. I share my work place. Do I have to do anything?

A. You should tell other employees and self employee people there about any risks your work could cause them, and inform them of any precautions you are taking. Think about the risks to your own workforce for those who share the workplace.


Q. The work I do varies a lot. Should I do anything different?

A.  Identify any hazards that you expect and assess the risk from them. A general assessment will stand you in good stead for the majority of your work. When you do take work to a new site, cover any new or different hazards with a specific assessment. 


All of these topics are covered in our Manual Handling training.

If you work in the Care Sector then click here for our Moving and Handling training.

If you have any questions that aren’t answered here why not send us an email via our contact page, we will try and find out the answer and get back to you.




















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