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How To Conduct A Proper Manual Handling Risk Assessment

A manual handling risk assessment is used to identify and eliminate the hazards that might cause musculoskeletal injuries caused by repetitive handling or lifting of heavy objects. Protect workers from risk factors by using a digital tool to assess the risks at any time and then take protective measures.

See our ready-made templates:

Manual Handling Risk Assessment Template

This manual handling risk assessment template can be used by managers or shift supervisors to help identify the risk for all workers who perform manual handling, lifting, and carrying of loads.

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HSE Manual Handling Risk Assessment Template

This HSE manual handling risk assessment template helps you to identify risks when doing manual handling or lifting heavy loads.

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What is a Manual Handling Risk Assessment Example?


A manual handling risk assessment is a requirement that all employers must adhere to in accordance with the Manual Handling Operations Regulation 1992. This legislation aims to protect workers who are at risk of injuries caused by manual handlings, such as pushing, pulling, or carrying something. It contains safety measures that are divided into three parts:



Manual handling is defined as a task or activity that involves a risk of injury. According to the Health and Safety statistics, around 38.8 million days are lost because of work-related sickness and injuries. Because of this, different types of regulations are set in place not only to protect workers but also to mitigate the financial loss caused by injuries, the most common of which are musculoskeletal. Through the HSE manual handling risk assessment, employers and employees become aware of what controls should be set to reduce risks.


The checklist advises workers to:


  • Observe the safe systems in place
  • Use the safety equipment provided to them
  • Inform management or an officer-in-charge if they identify risks and hazards in their manual handling tasks
  • Ensure that they are not putting themselves or their co-workers at risk

Although the manual handling risk assessment checklist doesn’t specify a weight limit, it contains an assessment of tasks that should be done to ensure the health and safety of workers. Hence, for a risk assessment to become truly effective and suitable, it must contain the following elements:


  • Consideration of the four risk factors: Task, Individual, Load, and Environment
  • People who are at risk
  • Control methods that should be put in place to mitigate the risk
  • Further actions to be taken and the people who will do it


In this article, the following points are explained:


1. The 4 Key Areas of Manual Handling


2. How to identify and fixing hazardous manual handling


3. A digital tool for manual handling risk assessments


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The 4 Key Areas of Manual Handling


Risk assessment in manual handling contains four key areas that can be best remembered using the acronym TILE:

  • TASK
  • INDIVIDUAL
  • LOAD
  • ENVIRONMENT

1. Key: Task


What tasks are considered strenuous? Does it involve long distances? Does it have a rest and recovery time between tasks?


These are some of the questions or factors you need to consider when assessing the task at hand. Other factors involved in this category include the number of people needed to accomplish the task, the positioning of the load, and unfavorable ergonomic conditions that might harm the person. Some of this ergonomic risk factors include:


  • Lifting the load needs repeated manipulation of the bundle at a distance from your trunk
  • Lifting the load causes you to bend your trunk repeatedly
  • The load is too heavy and large to handle
  • Handling the load is above shoulder height
  • You need to twist your trunk repeatedly when handling the load
  • It requires a long distance to carry the load, and the area is unsafe

2. Key: Individual


Assess the capabilities of the people who will carry out the task. Aside from their abilities, you should also factor in their age, any existing or prior injuries, pre-existing health conditions, the equipment they use for the task, and if they need any special training for the task. Some manual handling activities might require people with a specific height, strength, and flexibility.


3. Key: Load


Assessing the load does not necessarily mean checking how much it weighs. There are several factors why a certain load can be difficult to carry or handle. It could have a varying size or shape. It can be too big for the grasp and could be blocking your view when you're carrying it. Assess the load thoroughly before you set to work.


4. Key: Environment


The workplace plays a big factor when performing a manual handling risk assessment. If the ground is slippery or the space is contained, it could affect how you handle or carry the load. Even the ventilation and lighting can greatly affect how you perform the task.


How to Identify and Fixing Hazardous Manual Handling

According to Worksafe Victoria, and the HSE manual handling risk assessment, hazardous manual handling consists of:


  • Sustained or repeated use of force
  • Sustained improper posture
  • Repeated over-exertion like lifting heavy loads
  • Carrying unstable or unbalanced loads
  • Handling people and live animals

Hazardous manual tasks do not just involve lifting heavy objects. Sitting in front of the computer in an improper posture for a long time has adverse effects on your health and body as well. That's why legislation requires employers to identify these safety risks in the workplace and apply control methods to prevent accidents and injuries from happening.


Here are some important steps how you can identify and fix unsafe manual handling:


1. Consult with your team


When it comes to safety issues in your organization, your team's insight is vital. After all, they have first-hand experience. That's why involving your team in the process plays an important role in the success of your risk management program.


2. Look for the hazards


As mentioned throughout this article, hazardous manual handling involves force when pulling, pushing, or lifting something. Find all the tasks and activities that involve hazardous manual handling.


3. Evaluate the risks


Once you identify these hazardous tasks in the key areas, assess each of their risk levels. Aside from force, wrong postures, environmental conditions, duration, and frequency, work-related stress can be an indirect cause of musculoskeletal disorders


4. Use appropriate risk control measures


Risk controls depend on the level of risk of each task. Sometimes, organizations need to use two control measures to ensure a safer environment for workers. Here are the steps to control risks in the workplace:

  1. Elimination — remove all the tasks or activities that may cause injuries by substituting them with another to mitigate the risks. For example, using a forklift to carry the loads instead of letting people do the job.
  2. Reduction — lessen the risk by changing or modifying the task, work processes, workplace, and more. For example, changing the equipment or tools to improve the workflow.
  3. Education — train your workers on the proper handling of loads to reduce the possibility of risks. Also, encourage them to report any hazardous tasks or things no matter how minor they look.

5. Evaluate your risk controls


Evaluating the risk control measures you use will show whether it was effective or needed revision. It will also show you whether they are working properly or you need additional actions.

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Better manual handling risk assessments with a digital tool


Assessing and mitigating manual handling risks through risk assessments are only part of the occupational safety measures that every employer should take in their company. Keeping employees safe is part of everyday business. With regular inspections and audits in various work areas, companies are building a safety culture from the ground up. Not only does this reduce the risk of incidents and accidents, but it also saves money by avoiding costly downtime.


To better oversee and plan for the multitude of risk assessments and safety inspections, it pays to use a digital tool. Like Lumiform's powerful and flexible app, a mobile app and desktop software saves you time and money every day through better process optimization, improved team communication about safety issues, and saves you from the inconvenience of dealing with mountains of paper lists.


Lumiform's digital tool helps you do the following:

  • Use expert-tested, ready-made manual handling risk assessment templates from our template library anytime, anywhere, and on any mobile device - even when you're offline or without an internet connection.
  • Photograph manual handling risk factors and annotate the images for better visual reference.
  • Assign corrective actions with a priority level and due date for effective recording and tracking of control actions.
  • Schedule hazard assessments and other checks through the app and be notified when they are overdue.
  • Generate reports automatically after each assessment and store them securely in the cloud, so they can be accessed anytime from anywhere by you and other responsible parties.
  • Share digital assessment reports with your team with just a few clicks.


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