Manual Handling


At present, over a quarter of all accidents reported nationally each year are associated with injuries caused during lifting and handling operations at work.  The Regulations, which came into force on 1 January 1993, are designed to reduce this total.  The University Policy has been amended to take account of newly issued Health and Safety Executive guidance.

University employees are involved in manual handling and lifting operations too numerous to list.  Those in libraries lift kilos of books each day and transport them, very often manually, to the readers.  Laboratory workers lift and handle dangerous substances and heavy and awkward items like gas cylinders.  Anyone involved in taking in deliveries into their department is likely to handle boxes, parcels and packages of different shapes, sizes and weights.  Secretarial and administrative staff are likely to do similar work.  Loads likely to cause injuries do not always cause musculo-skeletal injuries. During manual handling and lifting operations accidents can easily happen which cause injuries to the head, hands or feet.

In the assessments made under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 there is a duty to identify those manual handling and lifting operations which are likely to involve a risk of injury.

There is then a further duty to avoid the need for manual handling operations involving a risk of injury, so far as is reasonably practicable.  The Regulations do not ban manual handling operations, but require the University to take all reasonably practicable precautions.  (Avoidance of manual handling operations usually takes the form of redesigning the tasks or providing mechanical assistance.)

Following this there is a need to make an assessment of the risks in those manual handling operations which cannot be avoided: (an assessment is simply a way of analysing the risks and pointing the way to practical solutions). Heads of Departments should designate a departmental assessor who must be trained to a University approved standard to carry out specific risk assessments.  It is acceptable for departments to share an assessor providing suitable arrangements are agreed.

The intention is to target operations liable to present a risk of injury.  These operations then need specific assessments (which should be in writing).

Please refer to the Policy S7/99 for further information


Manual handling and lifting operations are common throughout the University and the majority of University staff will routinely engage in some form of lifting or manual handling in the course of their work. The Safety Office is offering an introductory courses on manual handling and safe lifting techniques, which would be suitable for members of staff who undertake manual handling as part of their work.

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