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Manual handling in healthcare

Manual handling causes over a third of all workplace injuries, including musculoskeletal disorders (injuries to arms, legs and joints, and repetitive strain injuries).

Manual handling includes:

  • lifting
  • putting an item down
  • pushing
  • pulling
  • carrying or moving a load

This may involve risk, particularly of a back injury.

Manager responsibilities

You must carry out a written risk assessment of manual handling and/or people handling activities in consultation with your staff.

The assessment must take into account the working environment and systems of work. It should include any control measures put in place to reduce the level of risk.

The risk assessment findings must be recorded, implemented and shared with your staff. The assessment should be reviewed and updated in accordance with the manual handling policy.

You must provide manual handling training for staff following risk assessment:

  • at induction
  • at no greater than 3-yearly intervals, or
  • where there is a major change in the work involved or equipment used, or
  • when an employee is transferred to another activity requiring different loads to be handled

This training is available to employees of the HSE following a training needs assessment (TNA).

Employee responsibilities

Employees must:

  • comply with the manual handling and people handling policy and risk assessments
  • attend mandatory manual handling and people handling training sessions
  • report accidents, incidents and any difficulties relating to manual handling and people handling tasks
  • take reasonable care of personal safety, health and welfare and that of others
  • co-operate with your manager to regularly review the risk assessment and control measures

Support and advice

Discuss with your manager any manual handling health problems connected with your work. Your manager may review the risk assessment and identify further controls.

You may be referred to your local occupational health department.

NHSF have procured a contract for ergonomic assessments and consultancy services for clinical, medical and complex ergonomics only. For more information on the OGP contract holders contact the NHSF helpdesk on 1800 420 420.

Related topics

Manual Handling training

Carrying out a risk assessment

Related documents

Manual handling and people handling policy (PDF, 453KB, 35 pages)

Guidance on managing the manual handling issues of service users with bariatric needs (PDF, 1.2MB, 25 pages)

People handling risk assessment form and guidance (Word, 178KB, 4 pages)

Task specific manual handling (inanimate load) risk assessment (Word, 59KB, 4 pages)

Sample manual handling inanimate loads risk assessment (PDF, 512KB, 4 pages)

Contact HSE Health and Safety helpdesk

Use the Health and Safety self-service portal or

Phone: 1800 420 420

Monday to Friday 10.30am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 3.30pm