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Understanding the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR)

The problem with the growth of a regulatory culture is that we often throw the baby out with the bath water by lazily dismissing regulations as ‘red tape’ or ‘ bureaucratic interference’. However the importance of understanding and implementing the Manual Handling Regulations 1992 (MHOR) is critical for employers and employees alike.


Why should the MHOR be followed in the workplace?


  1. Following the regulations will directly reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) associated with manual handling, which is recognised as the most reported kind of work based health issue.
  2. Identifying manual handling risks and addressing these risks by providing safe working practices and the correct equipment will reduce work-related MSDs , improve productivity and reduce absenteeism.
  3. If an accident occurs at work as a result of incorrect manual handling this may result in damaged goods, damaged people and a damaged reputation for your business.

What is a simple summary of the regulations?

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

So it can be taken that MHOR affects every organisation from picking up the box of paper for the photocopier to moving a 3 tonne load around a warehouse. That means that virtually every employer needs to know about manual handling and how to address it.

I want to follow the regulations but I don’t know where to start, what should I do?

The Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are really good at interpreting the regulations and making them simple to understand and put into practice. So take a look at their site when you get a chance. Or take a look at the regulations themselves.

Step 1. The regulations say that, as far as is reasonably practicable, avoid the need for employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of being injured.

Step 2. Conduct a risk assessment for the Manual handling operations that cannot be avoided.

Step 3. As far as it is reasonably practicable, take action to reduce the risk of injury.

Now it is easy for over-zealous health and safety officers to bring the workplace to a standstill by insisting that the organisation conducts a risk assessment for picking up a biro. Conversely, an over-confident operations manager may feel that ‘reasonably practicable’ means that all operatives should ‘shape-up’ as it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to spend all day lifting and moving 20Kg loads without the need for the correct training or equipment to do the job.

So how can a manual handling assessment be genuinely useful to my employees and my organisation ?

We like the TILEO acronym adopted and recommended by RoSPA. This stands for Task, Individual, Load, Environment and Other Factors. We think this simple approach is a common sense way to approach both general and dynamic manual handling risk assessments in the workplace.

Here’s how it works:

Task. What is the job to be done? Take a look at every task which involves transporting a load from a static position.

Individual. Who is moving the load? This does not mean discriminating, but positively recognising that some people are more physically capable of carrying out simple manual handling tasks than others. This is particularly important when considering The Disability Discrimination Act 2010 (DDA).

Load. Look at the weight and dimensions of the load. Weight is critically important, but over-stretching to accommodate an over-sized load should be considered as well.

Environment. Carrying a 15KG box over a ploughed field is different to carrying it across an office floor. Indoor and outdoor manual handling present different challenges and these environments should be addressed independently.

Other Factors. How repetitive is the task? What is the distance of travel? These are the kind of questions that should be asked when undertaking manual handling risk assessments.

What do I do next?

Now that you have completed your risk assessments, you then need to take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury to people undertaking manual handling tasks in the workplace.

These steps will include:

  1. Appropriate manual handling training for all employees involved in regular manual handling tasks.
  2. Specific training for specific tasks for employees undertaking the same task on a regular basis.
  3. Re-inforce the message. Undertake regular refresher training and place posters around the workplace to remind employees about the Manual Handling Operations Regulations and the correct way to lift, move and transport a load.
  4. The provision of the correct equipment to carry out the task. This is where Parrs comes in. manufacture and distribute high quality workplace equipment which can be used to reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders, increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and improve job satisfaction.


If you take the view that The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 can make a positive contribution to your workplace, then you will see great benefits in reduced workplace injuries and improved employee productivity. By not properly addressing the regulations, your organisation will be liable to prosecution from the Health and Safety Executive and you may be putting your employee’s health at risk.