SC12 - Manual handling
06 Dec 2010



Safe manual handling operations




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Rev Details Date
1Initial launchNovember 2007
1.1Amendments to audit checklistMay 2013
1.2Added References sectionAugust 2013
Add Document retention policy apppendix
August 2014
Changes to definition of 'significant'
May 2015
Changes to reflect audit recommendations​
Sept 2017​
Minor changes to reflect the launch of SHE Assure​​October 2018​

1. Purpose

This code establishes STFC requirements to ensure that manual handling operations are carried out in a safe manner on STFC sites and by STFC staff.

Statutory requirements are set out in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended). The regulations require employers to avoid manual handling tasks which may give rise to injury and, where such manual handling cannot be avoided, to make an assessment and to take appropriate measures to remove or reduce the risk of injury.

More than a third of all over-three–day injuries reported each year to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are caused by manual handling and back injuries from manual handling are a major cause of occupational ill health in the UK.

2. Scope

This Code applies to all STFC employees, facility users, visitors and tenants undertaking manual handling operations on STFC sites and to all STFC staff working on Council business at non STFC sites.

This code does not apply in emergencies, or where actions intended to save life are being undertaken for example first aiders moving an injured person.

Contractors are responsible for assessing their own manual handling risks and as appropriate, documenting their significant manual handling assessments. Contract Superintending Officers should ensure that this is done.

3. Definitions

3.1 Manual handling operation or task

Transporting or supporting a load by hand or bodily force, including the lifting, putting down, carrying or moving a load.

3.2 Significant manual handling hazard

Significant manual handling hazards are those in which there is a higher likelihood of injury occurring. Examples where this may be the case include: unusually shaped or unstable loads; excessive weights or awkward loads; cramped work areas resulting in bad posture e.g. stooping or twisting; or lifts requiring a load being held away from the body i.e. at arms length.

No absolute definition of significant can be provided, as it is closely dependent on the task, load, environment in which the task takes place and the individual(s) concerned. STFC has therefore defined two sets of trigger criteria to help managers when assessing tasks:

For lifting:

Significant lifting is that which involved lifting an object:

  1. That has a mass of 5kg or more; and
  2. Carrying it more than 5m; and
  3. Doing this activity more than 5 times a month.

A one-off task involving a load of 7kg a distance of 8m would not be considered significant unless the line manager considered it so for other reasons - environment, capability of person etc.

For pushing or pulling:

Significant pushing or pulling is that which involves pushing or pulling a mobile object (one fitted with castors or wheels etc.):

  1. That has a mass of 50kg or more; and
  2. Pushing/Pulling it more than 50m; and
  3. Doing this activity more than 5 times a month.

A one-off task that involves pushing or pulling an object with a mass of 70kg a distance of 80m would not be considered significant unless the line manager considered it so for other reasons – environment, capability of person etc.

3.3 Manual handling hazard

Information tailored to prompt consideration of the hazards specific to manual handling operations for inclusion in the general activity risk assessment​, see Appendix 3.

3.4 Manual handing weight limits

The Regulations do not establish absolute limits on the maximum weights that can be lifted but do provide guidelines; these are 25kg for men and 16kg for women, where the load is at waist height. At any position other than waist height these limits are reduced progressively to 10kg for men and 7kg for women, at head or ankle height - see Appendix 1.

Under no circumstances should an employee of the STFC, tenant, user or visitor exceed the upper limit of 25kg.

(for comparison a 50l bag of compost from a garden centre would weigh about 15kg, the maximum weight of airline 'carry-on' luggage is 10kg, your car's spage wheel will weigh about 23kg).

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Directors/Group leaders shall:
  • 4.1.1  ensure for all significant manual handling activities a general risk assessment is undertaken to address the manual handling hazards, (see Appendices 2and 3), detailing current and required measures to minimise the risk of injury.

  • 4.1.3  ensure that where general risk assessments identify specific actions to minimise the risk of manual handling injuries they are undertaken promptly and to plan.
4.2 Line Managers shall:
  • 4.2.1 where practicable avoid the need for employees to undertake manual handling where there is a significant risk of injury by: 

    • carrying out the task in a way that eliminates the need for lifting; or
    • employing experienced material handling personnel to undertake the task.

  • 4.2.2 minimise the risk of injury where avoidance of manual handling is not practicable by: 

    • ensuring a suitable and sufficient manual handling assessment is carried out as part of the general activity risk assessment. Where the risk of injury or ill health is significant this should be documented and recorded in SHE Enterprise. Manual handling assessments should thereafter be reviewed in the light of changes to workplace procedures, activities or equipment, or changing legislation, and as a minimum reviewed every 2 years. See Appendices 2 and 3 , and
    • taking steps to reduce the risk of injury by providing lifting aids, trolleys or pallet trucks etc. identified in manual handling assessments, and
    • providing employees with general information and where reasonably practicable, precise information on the weight, centre of gravity, contents and other relevant information on specific loads. This information may be on the load itself or with accompanying documentation.
4.3 Employees, tenants, users and visitors shall:
  • 4.3.1 use any equipment or systems provided to minimise the risk of injury arising from manual handling activities, where documented this will be stated as part of the activity risk assessment​.​
  • 4.3.2 inform their employer/supervisor of any physical condition which may affect their capacity to carry out any manual handling task.
  • 4.3.3 report all injuries or near misses involving manual handling, see SHE Code 5 'Incident reporting and investigation', and seek Occupational Health/medical advice promptly, as early intervention in diagnosis and treatment of back injuries greatly improves the likelihood of a successful recovery.

5. References

  • 5.1 Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) 
  • 5.2 INDG143, Getting to grips with manual handling. (HSE
  • 5.3 INDG383, Manual handling assessment charts. (HSE)
  • 5.4 INDG478, Risk assessment of pushing and pulling (RAPP) tool (HSE)​

Contact: Baker, Gareth (STFC,DL,COO)