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Manual handling

Manual handling means more than simply lifting or carrying something. The term is used to describe activities including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, moving, holding or restraining an object, animal or person. It also covers activities that require the use of force or effort such as pulling a lever or operating power tools.

Over 30 per cent of all accidents reported to the HSE are connected with manual handling. Every year 300,000 people are forced to endure the agony of back pain resulting from a manual handling incident. [UNISON]

Manual handling injuries mostly affect the back, but can also cause severe problems to the limbs, muscles, tendons and the heart and because these injuries tend to take longer to heal they have a more profound effect on longer term health.

There are strict laws designed to ensure that employers take action to prevent injury as a result of manual handling. Employers should have a written policy as part of their overall safety policy. The main law is the Manual Handling Regulations 1992.


The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

HSE Manual Handling Leaflet

HSE Free leaflets on manual handling

USDAW: Preventing manual handling injuries

BFAWU: Guide to manual handling

UNISON: Ending back pain from lifting

The most recent documents available on this subject are:

Backs! 2005 – HSE campaign
The Health and Safety Executive is to run a “major national initiative” this summer focussed on reducing the incidence of back pain at work.
PDF version available for download
22 April 2005

London seeks to lead Britain in the challenge to secure better health and safety at work
A world class city must have world class workplaces, that means aspiring to and achieving world class standards of health and safety at work – not for some, but for all. And the roadmap for turning that dream into a reality includes there being a health and safety rep in every workplace in London and a positive and meaningful partnership between that rep, the employer, unions and the Health and Safety Executive. Those are the key messages from an event (today) organised by HSE London and the Southern and Eastern Region TUC for more than 200 London based health and safety reps.
19 November 2004

Back pain strikes two-thirds of adults
A union survey has found back pain is far more common and affects a wider group of people than previously thought - with sedentary work one of the causes.
PDF version available for download
15 October 2004

Back strains and bullying worse in Northern region, TUC safety survey reveals
Workers in the Northern region have the highest levels of concern about bullying of any region in Great Britain, and the second highest concerns about back strains, according to a TUC survey of workplace union safety reps published today (Tuesday).
7 January 2003

Advance notice: Banding together to beat bad backs
To highlight the growing problem, next week in European Week for Safety and Health (16 - 22 October), the TUC, BackCare and the Forum of Private Business are launching a back pain report and a special back phone line.
11 October 2000

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