A Comprehensive Guide To Manual Handling Training At Work

A Comprehensive Guide To Manual Handling Training At Work

Did you know that manual handling injuries account for one-third of all workplace accidents? To help reduce these numbers, employers must enforce manual handling training at the workplace. But what is manual handling, and why should employees undergo this training? 

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need about manual handling and how to apply it in your organization. We’ll cover topics such as the key areas of manual handling, principles of manual handling, and tips to avoid hazards in manual handling.


What is Manual Handling?

Manual handling is supporting or transporting a load by hand or force using the body. This includes lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, throwing, and moving objects. Manual handling can be done in various ways, but it is most commonly associated with manual labor tasks such as construction, factory, and agriculture.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), manual handling is the main reason for over a third of all workplace injuries and work-related repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Workers unable to safely execute manual handling can put themselves and others at risk for several injuries, including strains, sprains, fractures, cuts, bruises, and even death.


Key Areas of Manual Handling

Repetitive movements of the arms and legs, heavy manual labor, and awkward postures can potentially increase the risks of work-related manual handling injuries. The four key manual handling areas are task, individual, load, and environment—or TILE. These areas can help assessors determine the risks associated with manual tasks.


Task – The manual handling activity

This key area focuses on the tasks that are to be performed by an employee. It involves the necessary processes and steps to perform an activity. These activities include general movements such as pushing, pulling, carrying, lifting, stooping, or twisting. This process helps assess employee needs, including adequate opportunities to rest and recover.


Individual – The person involved and their respective capabilities

The particular key area focuses on the person who will be performing manual handling tasks. This includes their age, health, strength, size, and any manual handling injuries they may have sustained in the past. This assessment helps to identify what manual handling tasks an individual may be able to perform safely and under what conditions.


Load – The weight and size of the load being handled

This key area focuses on the characteristics of the load being handled. This includes the weight, size, and shape of the load. It also considers how the load is lifted, carried, or moved. This assessment helps to identify the appropriate manual handling equipment and techniques that should be used.


Environment – The conditions in which manual handling is taking place

This key area focuses on the conditions in which manual handling tasks are performed. This includes the layout of the work area, lighting, ventilation, and flooring. It also takes into account any obstacles that may be present. This assessment helps to identify the appropriate manual handling equipment and techniques that should be used.


Principles of Manual Handling

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations require all employers to assess, prevent, and reduce the risk of manual handling-related injuries. Proper execution and implementation of manual handling can help the organization to:

  • Mitigate the injury risks due to hazardous manual handling
  • Assess and identify manual handling risks; implement control measures in accordance with the ‘Hierarchy of Controls’ for unavoidable operations


Manual handling has five key principles that are essential for preventing manual handling injuries:



Before carrying or transporting an object, ensure the worker follows TILE in assessing the area. They should also determine if manual handling will involve strenuous activities and long distances for employees to strategize where to place breaks for rest.



Load the object in a way that will distribute its weight as evenly as possible. For example, when lifting a box, the worker should keep it close to their body and avoid carrying it at arm’s length. In addition, establish good posture with feet about shoulder-width apart; keep the body close to the center before turning; keep the back as straight as possible, and avoid twisting when carrying or transporting an object.



When lifting, always use the large muscles of the legs, not the back. The worker should hold the object close to their body and bend at the knees, not the waist. They should avoid lifting objects above shoulder height, and if the object is too heavy to lift safely, ask for help.



Moving from one place to another, workers should keep their feet about shoulder-width apart and avoid sudden starts, stops, or turns. They should also avoid carrying objects that block their view. That way, they can see any potential hazards in their path.



Avoid dropping the load immediately; instead, put it down slowly, smoothly, and steadily when reaching the destination. The worker should also avoid placing the object where it could fall on someone or something. If possible, find a convenient spot in the destination area to help manual handling maintain their pace while carrying or transporting an object.


Tips to Avoid Hazards in Manual Handling

Repetitive tasks and bad lifting routines are the usual culprits for back pain that may trigger illnesses such as MSDs. To prevent this, here are some useful tips that organizations should implement to avoid hazards during manual handling:

  1. Provide manual handling training
  2. Enforce good ergonomic principles in the workplace to help prevent injuries while improving productivity tasks.
  3. Keep the travel route unobstructed
  4. Provide manual handling aids such as trolleys, dollies, and ramps to help move heavy loads.
  5. Ensure that employees take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
  6. Assign appropriate people according to the weight and size of the load.
  7. Use mechanical devices or manual handling aids to help lift, carry, and transport loads.
  8. Nominate a point person in charge of manual handling for the day to help with coordination.


Organizations should also have a manual handling policy that outlines the roles and responsibilities of employees and the procedures to be followed in the event of an injury. This will help to create a safe and healthy working environment for all employees.


Implement Manual Handling Training with DATAMYTE

If you want to execute proper manual handling at work, it’s crucial to orient and train your workforce. One way to do this is by creating a manual handling training workflow, which involves a comprehensive walkthrough of manual handling in any situation or condition in the workplace. DATAMYTE offers comprehensive Digital Clipboard software that lets you create comprehensive workflows that you can use to conduct manual handling training.

With the DataMyte Digital Clipboard, you can :

  • Create a manual handling training workflow for your employees.
  • Assign specific manual handling tasks to employees.
  • Monitor employee progress and performance in manual handling training.
  • Analyze manual handling data to identify trends and problems.
  • Generate reports on manual handling training progress and performance.
  • Schedule and conduct manual handling training at specific intervals
  • Assign manual handling trainers to new or current employees
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of manual handling training with post-training surveys
  • Keep a log of manual handling training sessions for compliance purposes
  • Create checklists for manual handling trainers to follow during manual handling training
  • And much more!


Schedule a demo with us today to see how the DataMyte Digital Clipboard can help you with manual handling training in your workplace!



Manual handling is a complex task that requires careful planning and execution to prevent injuries. By following the tips in this guide, your organization can help create a safe work environment for all employees.



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