Manual Handling – a guide from RoSPA

A subject our customers often ask us about is “Manual Handling” and “Musculoskeletal Disorders” . We produce lots of safety signs and manual handling posters, that can help as part of your overall safety policy for manual handling. Lifting correctly is something that is often viewed as commonsense and not given the adequate attention it deserves. It should not be restricted to warehousing and stores departments, but should also cover the general day to day working of most staff, including office workers and field representatives. After all, how many of us move heavy boxes of copier paper, without thinking of the consequences? This lack of sufficient attention could lead to serious injuries, often having a long term effect on staff and the company as a whole. To give you more information, we asked RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) for their views. As a result RoSPA have very kindly written this guest post.

Manual Handling

It might sound simple, but a correct manual handling technique is often something that is overlooked in the workplace – sometimes to devastating effect.

What is manual handling?

According to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992, manual handling is defined as:

“… any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.”

In reality, most organisations require some form of manual handling as part of their day-to-day operations, which is the main reason these regulations were developed.

Manual Handling and MSDs

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs for short), are the most commonly reported type of work-related ill health. They often result directly from poor manual handling technique. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to try and reduce the instances of MSDs in the workplace. Correct manual handling plays a central role in occupational safety, as every organisation has potentially harmful manual handling tasks.

Hierarchy of measures

The MHOR regulations demonstrate a hierarchy of measures that will help you manage your manual handling risks and reduce your risk of MSDs:

  • First – You must avoid the harmful manual handling operations, so far as it is reasonably practicable
  • Second – Assess the manual handling operations that cannot be avoided
  • Third – Reduce the risk of injury so far as it is reasonably practicable.


With manual handling playing such a central role in occupational safety, RoSPA has developed a number of manual handling courses exploring both practical aspects and the relevant theory to keep you safe, and help to prevent the blight of MSDs in the workplace.

For more information on this and many other safety topics please visit the RoSPA website.