Manual Handling (OBUHSN-34) Appendix 2


This document is to supply information, to the person carrying out the assessment, so that the requirements of the Manual Handling Regulations may be meet by Oxford Brookes University .

The information contained within this document will assist in ascertaining if there is a subsequent risk present to health and safety for the manual handling task that is to be undertaken.

The assessor should read this in conjunction with the Oxford Brookes University Safety Notice OBUHSN-34, and have a manual handling assessment form.

To assist in making a balanced assessment, reference should also be made to the Health and Safety Executive publication "Manual handling - Guidance on Regulations" (L23).


For the purpose of implementing this Safety Notice and assessing manual handling tasks, the assessor must have received training in manual handling and in how to carry out assessments.

The assessment of any handling task will be carried out using the assessment checklist as detailed in Appendix B, and the assessor will require to use their professional judgement as they work through the assessment.

The person/s who are to carry out, or who already carry out, the manual handling task will need to be consulted during the assessment exercise.

To achieve a satisfactory assessment of the task the observation of the actual manual handling task may be required. If this is the case, care must be exercised during the procedure to see that the person/s carrying out the task do not place themselves at any significant risk.

Carrying out a manual handling assessment

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, makes it a requirement that where there is a risk to the health and safety of employees while at work, that the risks must be sufficiently assessed by the employer.

The Manual Handling Regulations set out measures that should lead to safety during manual handling, and should be considered in this order:-

  1. avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable.
  2. make a suitable and sufficient assessment of any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided, and
  3. reduce the risk of injury from these operations so far as is reasonably practicable.

To assess every manual task would involve a major undertaking and could involve wasted effort.

Section A of the assessment form, appendix C, provides some filter arrangement, and will help to identify the tasks that demand more detailed assessment, to be carried out in section B in which, the assessments should be based on the following factors, where the levels of risk are ranked high, medium or low.

1 The tasks
Do they involve:
  • holding or manipulating loads at distance from trunk?
  • unsatisfactory bodily movement or posture, especially:
  • twisting the trunk?
  • stooping?
  • reaching upwards?
  • excessive movement of loads, especially:
  • excessive lifting or lowering distances?
  • excessive carrying distances?
  • excessive pushing or pulling of loads?
  • risk of sudden movement of loads?
  • frequent or prolonged physical effort?
  • insufficient rest or recovery periods?
  • a rate of work imposed by a process?
2 The loads
Are they:
  • heavy?
  • bulky or unwieldy?
  • difficult to grasp?
  • unstable, or with contents likely to shift?
  • sharp, hot or otherwise potentially damaging?
3 The working environment
Are there:
  • space constraints preventing good posture?
  • uneven, slippery or unstable floors?
  • variations in level of floors or work surfaces?
  • variations in level of floors or work surfaces?
  • extremes of temperature or humidity?
  • conditions causing ventilation problems or gusts of wind?
  • poor lighting conditions? capability
4 Individual capability
Does the job:
  • require unusual strength, height, etc?
  • create a hazard to those who might reasonably be considered to be pregnant or to have a health problem?
  • require special information or training
  • for its safe performance?
5 Other factors
Is movement or posture hindered by personal protective equipment or by clothing?

When risks have been identified as being high or medium, remedial actions will need to be identified in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Measures may include such actions as the use of tools such as trolleys, reducing the size of the load, sharing the task with others or changing the layout of the workplace. The notes below will help with the assessment of hazard levels and give guidance on remedial actions to be taken.

Individual Capability

All people have individual physical capabilities, which vary over a wide range. Guideline figures are not so called ‘safe limits’. An individual’s capability may be greater or lower than those shown in the following diagrams

Guidelines for lifting and lowering

Figure 1 indicates basic guideline weights for lifting or lowering within the indicated zone. These figures assume that both hands are being used, that the body is stable, and the working conditions are reasonable. Consideration must be given to the position of the hands as the load moves as well as the height and the reach during the operation.

If the operation/task moves through various zones, the smallest figure should be the one that is used.

The zone boundaries do not indicate abrupt changes, and when the operation/task is close to a zone boundary, an intermediate weight could be chosen

If the operation goes beyond the indicated boundaries, a more detailed assessment will be required.

Lifting and lowering heights
Figure 1 Lifting and lowering


If a twisting operation is involved the indicated figures should be reduced by 10% for a twist of 45 degrees, and by 20% for a twist of 90 degrees.

Feet placement when twisting
Figure 2 Assessing twist

Frequent lifting and lowering

If the operation/task involves up to approximately 30 operations an hour, the guidelines quoted in figure 1 will apply. If the operation/task is occurring once or twice a minute the guideline figures should be reduced by 30%, five to eight operations a minute the reduction should be 50%, and the reduction should be 80% for over 12 times per minute.

Guidelines for carrying

The guidelines are similar for those for lifting and lowering, but the carrying will not be with the hands below knuckle height, and the load is held against the body for not more than 10 metres before resting. For the carrying of loads over longer distances the guideline figures may need to be reduced.

If the load can be carried on the shoulder in a secure manner, without initially having to be lifted to the shoulder (i.e. direct from the back of a lorry), to allow the operation /task to be acceptable, the assessment will require more investigation details, which shows that the guideline figures can be exceeded.

Guidelines for pushing or pulling

For manual handling operations/tasks that involve the propelling of loads by pushing or pulling the figure to start and stop the load should be about 25kg, to keep the load in motion the force should be about 10kg. The force will be applied by hands between knuckle and shoulder height, any other position used to apply the force may require that the guideline figures be reduced.

The distance that the load is moved by pushing or pulling is not set, but rest and recovery periods must be built into the task.

Guidelines for handling while seated

Figure 3 indicates that the guideline figures only apply when the hands are within the detailed zone. If handling is beyond the zone or twisting is involved, the figure may require reducing.

Manual handling while seated
Figure 3 Handling while seated

Prioritisation of actions to be taken

The Primary Task Analyses Sheet, Appendix D, may be utilised in order to give rankings, to enable priorities to be given to remedial actions.

For each task the overall rating of risk for the elements task, load, individual capability and environment are assigned scores of 0 for negligible risk, 1 for low, 2 for medium and 3 for high. The scores are entered into the right hand column, their total makes the risk score.

A risk score of 9-12 indicates that modifications to the process must be made immediately in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level, a score of 5-8 indicates that a lower level of urgency may be called for.