Is Manual Handling a Legal Requirement?

Is Manual Handling a Legal Requirement?

Manual handling is a legal requirement in all workplaces under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR), meaning training is compulsory.

This is part of a more general UK law, namely the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA) 1974. This states that organisations must prevent all risks to employee health and safety.

Manual handling is a term for when a person applies bodily force to an object, in order to move it in a certain way. This could be pushing, pulling, carrying or lifting a heavy item. This is most common in warehouse, construction and factory jobs. Although, most jobs at some stage will likely involve moving desks or other heavy furniture.

Safe techniques could not only avoid injuries, but it increases workplace productivity. As a result, fulfilling legal requirements benefit both the worker and the organisation.


Legal Duties under MHOR 1992


Under MHOR, employers have responsibilities to protect workers from harm, perform a risk assessment and conduct staff training.

Firstly, an organisation should perform an assessment of risks in the workplace. This can help identify areas that need more attention and resources than others. Its especially necessary for workplaces where handling heavy items cannot be avoided.

To perform a manual handling risk assessment, you need to tick all the right legal boxes. You must take into account the nature of the lift or movement, individual capabilities, weight and size of the load as well as the state of the surrounding environment.

A good way to remember the steps is to recall the manual handling TILE acronym.[1] It stands for Task, Individual, Load and Environment.

Where possible, an organisation needs to minimise daily risks that workers face at work. This may include offering an alternative solution to picking up an object. To do this, offer an employee a mechanical lifting aid. These can be powered vehicles or machinery, or non-powered items.[2] Examples include:

  • Forklift trucks
  • A wheelbarrow
  • Pallet trucks
  • Trolleys
  • A lifting hook
  • A gravity roller

Although you may have to lift an item onto some of these things, they drastically reduce risks. This is because you spend much less time (or none at all) carrying and transporting a heavy item. This is when most injuries occur, because you may twist your back or neck during the lift.

Finally, an employer must train all employees in the new policies they form under the risk assessment. These can include anything from using personal protective equipment (PPE) in lifts to monitoring safe practices. Training must explain why it’s important to handle items safely, and the consequences of not doing so.



Whereas a business sets the policy groundwork, employees put it to action. As such, they must co-operate and attend any training sessions, and report any damaged goods.

Co-operating with managers and people higher-up in the organisation is crucial for personal and colleague health and safety. This includes a person reporting “any condition affecting them personally which might influence their ability to safely undertake any manual handling tasks”.[3] This is because it could threaten personal safety, as well as the safety of others in the workspace. As do damaged goods, which employees must be able to identify. This comes from knowledge gained in training.

Employee duties also include attendance at compulsory training sessions. If you fail to attend, you are liable for any workplace accidents that you cause. This is because you will not know about the most up to date practices and procedures.

A manual handling training course is an absolutely crucial part of any workplace. For a greater understanding, you can view one of the many online eLearning courses. Our course is wide-reaching, detailed and RoSPA approved.


You can view our online manual handling training course here.