How to Fix Your Manual Handling Risks

Don’t throw your hands up in dismay; removing manual handling risks is possible. Here is a system that works and it’s one that won’t put your back out! Read on for one of the most popular posts on Safety Concepts.

The process involves:

1. Conducting a risk assessment on manual tasks carried out in your workplace,
2. Looking at alternative ways to address any problems,
3. Choosing appropriate solutions, and
4. Then following up with a review to check that the solutions work.

The following is a systems approach to managing the risks associated with manual handling:

  • Develop your own internal risk management strategy
  • Know your legal obligations by reading the relevant state legislation
  • Decide which measures can be taken to ensure everyone in the workplace fulfils their legal obligations
  • Make someone responsible for implementing the control measures
  • Monitor the measures to determine if the problem has been solved
  • Keep a record of assessments and solutions.

Design and Implement

  • Design workplaces and workstations to ensure safe, efficient flow of work and people, promoting correct postures.
  • Ensure that work processes, tools or equipment do not pose risks to workers.
  • Work with your suppliers to ensure that equipment, products, packaging and delivery methods do not contribute to the risk of injury to workers.
  • Purchase mechanical devices to reduce the need for manual tasks.

Consult and Discuss

Talk and discuss with workers and safety representatives about the risk management strategy when:

  • when purchasing new equipment or products
  • when identifying tasks for assessment
  • when evaluating control measures
  • when checking that planned actions have occurred.


  • Train all workers in relation to the tasks that they are required to do. Include instruction on the safe use of tools/equipment. All workers should be trained in and responsible for risk assessment and implementing risk controls. Managers and supervisors should be competent relating to supervision and safe procdures in manual tasks. But don’t forget the contractors.
  • Inform contractors of manual tasks requirements and check they have conducted risk assessments before carrying out tasks at your site. Make sure that contractors’ work does not increase the risks associated with tasks conducted by your workers.

Identify problems

  • Look for potential or immediate safety problems when you introduce workplace changes or new machines.
  • Critically examine work tasks if you get feedback on possible issues or worker complaints.
  • Investigate all incidents or near misses, checking for patterns such as repeated injuries with one task.
  • Use checklists to analyse risk factors.
  • Look out for risk factors such as awkward postures, repetition and vibration.
  • Decide which tasks need the most urgent attention.

Control the risks

  • Look for permanent changes that can be part of the system and not easily changed or avoided.
  • Avoid double handling of items.
  • Provide mechanical aids.
  • Redesign the task to remove risks.
  • Identify the low hanging fruit, changes that are possible immediately. Start with these and work on to those that may take time to implement.
  • Document your risk control decisions for each task assessed, and set timelines for changes.
  • Trial the changes in consultation with workers before making them permanent. 


  • Check that the various control measures have been put in place at the agreed times.
  • Review incident reports.
  • Consult with workers and workplace health and safety representatives.
  • Monitor worker satisfaction and all feedback on handling issues.
  • Regular audit by independent third party experts.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (4)

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  1. carol sowter says:

    thank you for that information much appreciated

  2. Wayne says:

    One of the biggest issues in the workplace! A great set of tips and ideas you can put to work right away!

  3. Darren says:

    Get in line for one of the big things that is going to rock employers. Manual lifting and hauling is one thing that this new generation of workers do not want to know about. People are not that hard up with full employment that they have to take jobs where it is advertised some manual lifting required. If they see that in the ad they move on to the other four or five ads that don’t. So what? Well when it does happen that from time to time they volunteer or fo some reason find themselves lifting a heavy objectthey are illprepared and unprotected. Och!

  4. Dorothy says:

    thank you for the information very helpful
    dorothy sherlock

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