3. Assess manual handling you can't avoid

Assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided.

You should consider the task, the load, the working environment and individual capability, for example:

  • the postures adopted
  • how far the load is lifted, lowered or carried
  • the frequency of the task
  • the weight of the load
  • the nature of the load (for example hot, sharp or slippery)
  • cramped work areas
  • poor floor surfaces
  • poor lighting, extremes of temperature
  • workers' strength, fitness and underlying medical conditions (for example a history of back problems)

Also, look out for:

  • workers breathing heavily and sweating
  • workers who complain of excessive fatigue
  • reluctance to do a particular task
  • the availability of equipment to help with the lift

Choose the right level of assessment for each task

Some tasks are low risk and don't need formal assessment. There are simple filters to help you distinguish low-risk tasks from those which need a more detailed assessment.

We also have risk assessment tools to help you identify high-risk handling operations and prioritise action to control the risks:

  • the Manual Handling Assessment Charts (MAC) tool for lifting, carrying and team handling
  • the Variable Manual handling Assessment Chart (V-MAC) tool to help assess complex manual handling operations where load weights vary
  • the Risk Assessment of Pushing and Pulling (RAPP) tool
  • the Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool if the task involves repetitive work using the upper limbs

Our detailed checklists can help you assess the more complex lifting and carrying or pushing and pulling operations.

Consult your workforce

Consult and involve your workforce in your risk assessment. They and their representatives know the risks in your workplace and may have practical solutions. Operators can often tell you which activities are unpopular, difficult or hard work.

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