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A guide to manual handling equipment

Manual handling causes over a third of injuries at work according to the Health and Safety Executive. Here is a guide to assessing risk and helpful equipment which can help to avoid injuries.

The term manual handling covers a wide variety of activities. These include lifting and carrying items, but also lowering, pushing or pulling items.

Assessing risk

When it comes to identifying potential risk, it’s not just the weight of an item that needs to be considered. Here is a list of factors to think about when assessing manual handling risk in the workplace:

  • Weight of item

  • Number of times an item needs to be moved

  • The distant an item is being moved

  • Location and environment of where an item is picked up or put down i.e. is the area a safe place for this activity

  • Height an item has to be moved from or to

  • Individual capability

  • Nature of the load

  • Training - you can find guidance on good techniques for manual handling and resources to help train your staff at the HSE website: []

As a starting point, observe and record tasks that involve manual handling around the workplace, taking note of the above factors.

Where possible avoid manual handling tasks as far as possible (for example, store items where they will be used). It is inevitable that some manual handling will be necessary, however, so where this is the case adopt the following safety measures:

  • Store items in a way that will reduce the amount of twisting, stooping and reaching needed to move items, but adjusting storage areas. Ensure that items, that are heavier do not need to be moved from floor level or above shoulder height -- and consider the height of all workers who will need to move the items.

  • Minimise carrying distances

  • Consider the individuals involved. Assess the weight to be carried and whether the worker can move the load safely. Additional help from other staff members, breaking the load into smaller, lighter sections or using specialist equipment can all help where it is considered that risk needs to be reduced.

Equipment to help make manual handling safer and easier.

There are several kinds of equipment which can be used.

  • Lifting aids. These include forklift truck, electric or hand-powered hoist, conveyors or pallet trucks. There is a wide range, so consider carefully which item might meet your needs. We can supply pallet trucks for example which have brake systems for use on sloped surfaces, for high lifting, in locations where you need to be close to the items and heavy duty equipment for regular industrial use.

  • Trolleys and carts

Trolleys and carts can help to avoid workers having to carry, push or pull items to move them. Some are built for heavy work terrain, others for limited spaces -- there is a wide range of options, including these deluxe folding platform trolleys which are designed and built so that they are easy to manouvre.

  • Steps

The height at which items need to be moved from and to can be the cause of injury and it is inadvisable to lift heavy items from above shoulder height. In cases where items have to be stored at these heights, it is important that staff are trained to use steps and have ready access to safe steps and ladders. Options range from these simple safety steps below, which can be easily moved and storied to stepladders that are easy to roll around the warehouse or folding stepladders for easy storage.

Premium Safety Steps, Two tread safety step with anti-slip abrasive strip, £86.88
Premium Safety Steps, Two tread safety step with anti-slip abrasive strip, £86.88

  • Storage

Think about storage as part of the manual handling process. Well-organised and located storage is a simple, helpful way to avoid manual handling tasks altogether and to prevent accidents and injuries.

For more information you can download the Guide to Manual Handling Safety by the HSE here

As always our team are happy to talk you through helpful options to suit your needs and budget. Call us on 01726 74264 or email for advice relating to your specific needs.


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