Variable manual handling assessment chart (V-MAC) tool

The V-MAC is a tool for assessing manual handling operations where load weights vary. It should be used in conjunction with the MAC tool.

The MAC tool was designed for assessing handling operations where the same weight is handled over the workday/shift. However, in practice, load weights are often variable (such as in order picking, parcel sorting, trailer loading/unloading, and parts delivery in manufacturing). The V-MAC was developed to help assess these kinds of jobs.

You may not need to use the V-MAC as it is more complex than is needed for assessing many manual handling operations. It is best suited for order picking and distribution systems which can automatically generate the data for importing into V-MAC.

You need to be aware that significant background knowledge is needed to use the V-MAC successfully. You can gain this from these support pages or through training.

There is more background information to the development of the tool in HSE Research Reports RR838 and RR1003.

HSE provides detailed guidance on the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

When can using the V-MAC help you?

When you are assessing jobs that involve regular manual handling operations and you find:

  • You can't assess manual handling using the MAC alone, as the weights of the loads vary. The V-MAC is an alternative graph to be used alongside the MAC to give a more accurate indication of the level of risk for the load weight/frequency risk factor. Then use the MAC for the other risk factors and enter the data into the MAC score sheet.
  • You can't assess the job using the Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool. The ART can help you assess repetitive tasks mostly involving the upper limbs.

Before starting to use the V-MAC, find out more about its advantages and limitations and what you need to know to use it successfully.

Detailed risk assessments

There is general advice from HSE on risk assessment related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Some manual handling operations need a detailed risk assessment that considers all the potential risk factors. The HSE guidance on the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 will help you do this.

Next page: Advantages and limitations of the V-MAC

See also

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Updated: 2021-01-27