Close Icon
Home / Blog / Health and Safety / Safer Workplace: Legislation Covering Manual Handling

The Importance of Legislation in Ensuring Workplace Safety

Whilst being successful in what they do and offer is one of the main focuses of main businesses and workplaces, it has to be said that ensuring that everyone who works there (or who happens to visit) is kept as safe as possible, is just as important too.

There are a variety of ways that you can do this, however, one of the key things that you are going to need to focus on is the legislation that is created for this exact purpose.

Legislation is made to ensure that workplaces are safe and it is expected that those who are in charge of a building, a business and those within it; are aware of the legislation that relates to them.

The Role of Compliance in Creating a Safer Workplace

It is one thing to create a piece of legislation that is there to protect safety in the workplace, what makes the difference is that it applies to, being compliant with what is asked of them.

Compliance means that you are following the rules that are set out and then, in turn, doing whatever you can to focus on the safety of those on your premises. In doing this you are giving yourself the best chance of protecting them from the key risk that could relate to what they do every day and ensuring that they feel safe and well cared for whilst they are at work.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The main focus of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is to ensure that employers protect the health, safety and welfare of the employees who work for them, as well as any other visitors or people on site. This included temporary staff, casual workers, those who are self-employed, clients, customers, visitors and even the general public.

The Act was created as a definitive way to ensure that employers understand what is expected of them and what their key duties and responsibilities are about health and safety.

Manual Handling Practices

One of the key areas that this act covers is manual handling practices. Manual handling is recognised as being one of the main risk factors for injuries and long-term disorders developing due to working environments. In fact, 21% of all workplace injuries can be directly linked to manual handling activities.

This includes those tasks that involve lifting, carrying or moving loads.

The Act looks at what is recognised as being good manual handling practices and ensures that employers understand what they need to do to educate their employees and encourage them to take proper care of their own selves when it comes to manual handling.

Employer Responsibilities and Legal Implications

As we have already mentioned, one of the main factors of the Act is to focus on the responsibilities and duties of employers when it comes to health and safety in the workplace. As well as educating those who need to know what is expected of them, it also highlights the legal implications when they do not follow the rules that are set out for them.

This could be financial implications, or it could be legal ones, it entirely depends on the occurrence and the outcome too.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations, 1992

Whilst the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers health and safety as a whole, it was decided that there needed to be regulations that look closer at manual handling. This especially became key when it was realised just how many workplace accidents and injuries were a direct result of manual handling (or should that be incorrect manual handling techniques).

Key Provisions of the Regulations:

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 have key provisions that form the regulations and guide those who require it in the world of manual handling.

Employer Duties and Responsibilities

The first focus for the Regulations is the duties and responsibilities of the employers, which gives them guidance on what they must do to keep those on their premises safe.

The first key responsibility of employers within the act is to carry out risk assessments for manual handling tasks that are performed within their day-to-day work. These risk assessments should be used to identify what the most hazardous manual handling tasks are and work out what measures can be used to either eliminate the need for manual handling or perform it in such a way that will reduce the chance of injury.

These assessments will not only think about the task as a whole but will also think about the load that is being moved, what the environment is like that it is being moved within or to and of course, who is actually going to be doing the moving, as this can also have an impact on what measures need to be put in place.

Image of crates of potatoes for Learn Q Safer Workplace Legislation Covering Manual HandlingThe other key responsibility for employers is to ensure that they provide their employees with relevant training opportunities within manual handling. This should outline what the best practice is for lifting and moving loads; which can be more general, or, if you are able to, could be linked to some of the most likely types of tasks that they are going to perform in their working day.

Employee Rights and Participation in Safety Measures

It makes sense that much of the responsibility for manual handling sits with the employer, however, that does not mean that there are none that are highlighted for employees too.

Within the Regulations, employees have to make sure that they make proper use of the systems that their employers put in place to maintain their health and safety. Not only this, but each employee has a responsibility to behave in a way that protects their own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of those around them.

They also need to engage with the training that is provided to them, ensuring that they are up to date with the training and that they fully understand what it means for them.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Whilst the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides an outline of what the health and safety obligations of employers are, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 take an even more in-depth look at this process and requirements.

Requirements for Risk Assessments

One of the main aspects of these particular Regulations is that employers are responsible for carrying out detailed risk assessments in order to identify the key risks that employees, contractors and anyone else on the premises, including members of the public, may face.

In order to do this they should follow the proper and formal risk assessment process, which will allow them to properly identify what risks are most present and what they could mean for those within the premises.

Implementation of Control Measures

Once a risk assessment has been carried out the Regulations outline that the employers should then implement a number of control measures. These control measures are there to try and reduce the chance of the risks that have been identified happening and also to think about what ways they can be controlled.

The control measures can also highlight the monitoring process, which will ensure that risks are checked on a regular basis to see if they have changed and whether or not anything else to manage them needs to be it.

Role of Competent Persons in Ensuring Compliance

Another aspect of the Regulations is the appointment of someone who is seen to be competent and able to ensure that those within the business are compliant with what is expected of them within manual handling rules.

They should be able to monitor what approaches are being used by those in the workplace and to identify whether the right amount of training has been provided to those who need it and that this then gives them the tools that they are going to need to allow them to keep themselves safe in their everyday tasks.

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, 1998

Whilst many manual handling tasks will be carried out by a person, there are also pieces of equipment that are able to help people do their job and carry out those lifts or moves.

In order to regulate the use of these, the Provisions and Use Of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 were created.

Ensuring Proper Maintenance and Inspection of Equipment

Image of forklift truck for Learn Q Safer Workplace Legislation Covering Manual HandlingA part of these regulations was to ensure that any equipment that is used in a workplace, and whatever it is used for, should be in a condition that makes it safe for use. This means that the employer needs to carry out inspections (or arrange for a professional to do so) on the equipment to ascertain whether or not it has developed any faults that mean that it is not safe to use.

The employers are also when they identify an issue, responsible for organising maintenance on the equipment to ensure that it is in the best condition possible.

Employer’s Duty to Provide Suitable Work Equipment

Another responsibility of employers is to provide work equipment that is always deemed to be suitable for their employees. This equipment should make things easier and safer for them in the tasks that they need to carry out.

Not only this, but they should also ensure that those who are going to be using the equipment are fully trained in using those pieces of equipment, as failure to do this can mean that it is not safe to use them and could make the risk of injury even higher.

It is also important that employers ensure that their employees know that using equipment to assist them in manual handling tasks does not replace the need for proper manual handling practices.

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR)

Despite the best efforts of everyone in the workplace, there is still a chance that accidents, injuries and dangerous occurrences can happen, as well as diseases developing in the workplace too. This also relates to manual handling injuries.

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 or RIDDOR as it is often known is there to ensure that if any of these should happen in a workplace, that the proper people are notified of this occurrence.

Reporting Requirements for Manual Handling Injuries

A reportable incident within RIDDOR is an accident that has occurred to a person in their working day, which then results in that person having to be away from work, or unable to perform their work duties for more than seven consecutive days. This includes those that occur due to manual handling (or a lack of manual handling).

Employer’s Obligation to Report Incidents

Within RIDDOR the people in charge of the business, more often than not the owners of the business, are responsible for reporting any incidents that have happened in the work environment; either that have caused death or a serious injury to occur.

This means that they should understand what is meant by RIDDOR and what RIDDOR in turn means for them.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

The consequence of noncompliance within RIDDOR will depend largely on the incident and just how serious it was. This could be as much as 2 years in prison for those who are responsible for preparing. Or an unlimited fine for the business.

Control of Vibration at Work Regulations, 2005

Some businesses, industries and working tasks are going to require the use of equipment that vibrates. This may not seem like it is too much of an issue if you are using them very little, but the impact of this type of machinery, when used regularly, can be huge on the person.

This is why the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 was created.

Impact on Manual Handling Involving Vibrating Tools

There are a number of effects that vibrating tools can have on those who use them every single day. These include pain and distress as well as disturbed sleep. The person may not be able to perform intricate activities, in and out of work, which includes being able to fasten buttons and get themselves dressed in the morning. They may also be at risk if they work outside from issues such as finger blanching.

Employer Responsibilities for Reducing Vibration Exposure

Much like many other aspects of health and safety, it is down to the employer to take responsibility for reducing exposure to vibrations for those who carry out the work. They can do this in a variety of ways.

The first thing that they need to do is to assess what risks there are from the vibrations that employees are exposed to. They should then think about what can be done to reduce this exposure. It might be that they carry out their work with a different piece of equipment, or that employees share the work so that no one is over the legal limit for exposure to vibrations.

Ensuring Compliance in Relevant Work Environments

It is vital that those who are in charge of a business always stay relevant within these particular Regulations. That way, there is a much lower chance that someone in the workplace is going to end up developing a health condition linked to the use of vibrating equipment and the business will be faced with a consequence for not being compliant.

Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations 1992

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992 are there to cover a number of health, safety and welfare issues that apply to workplaces in the UK. However, they do not cover those that are involved with construction work.

Manual Handling Facility Design

In order to keep those in a workplace safe when they are performing manual handling tasks, there needs to be an element of manual handling facility design. It is this design that can help to ensure that any manual handling that is needed is carried out in a way that is going to be safe and keep them protected.

Ensuring Safe Workspaces and Layouts

Another important aspect of manual handling that is important is that the workspace and environment in which the tasks are carried out are safe. Many of the manual handling accidents that occur do so because the environment that the person is in is not suitable and actually causes there to be some additional risks to them as they move the load from one place to another.

This means that it needs to be identified whether or not the workspace that the manual handling task is carried out on is going to be safe and is laid out in a way that reduces the possibility of an issue occurring.

Consideration of Factors Affecting Workplace Comfort and Safety

It is also important that employers consider what factors will impact the overall safety of a workplace. This may need to be repeated on a regular basis, as things can and do change over time, which means that something that was okay at one time, will not always be that way.

The same is true for workplace comfort as repetitive tasks can often lead the employees carrying out the task to be uncomfortable on the working day.


Health and Safety Training

Browse Learn Q Courses

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

Asbestos Awareness

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

COSHH Awareness

Starting From: £9.00 incl. VAT

Emergency First Aid at Work

Starting From: £12.00 incl. VAT

Fire Safety

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

Manual Handling

Starting From: £12.00 incl. VAT

Risk Assessment Awareness

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

Slips Trips and Falls

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

Working at Height

Contact Form Learn Q page image

Got a question?

Get in contact and we will
get back to you

Contact Us

Related Courses

Browse Learn Q Courses

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

Asbestos Awareness

Starting From: £10.50 incl. VAT

Mental Health: Remote Working

Starting From: £12.00 incl. VAT

Risk Assessment Awareness

Related Articles

Browse Learn Q Blog


The best way to control handling yourself is to reduce the need to lift loads as much as you can. If you do need to lift anything, then follow the guidance set out in manual handling techniques and use any appropriate equipment or tools that you have been provided with by your employer.

The best way to reduce the risk of injury to employees within a workplace is to minimise the amount of manual handling that they do. However, if manual handling is still required then changes to deadlines and work routines should be implemented. This means that there is less chance that the person lifting will rush the process and there should not be a need for an excessive work rate.

Another way to reduce risk is to improve the working environment. There should be a focus on maximum space, with better flooring and extra lighting too.

Of course, the best way to reduce the risk of manual handling is to provide correct training for anyone who is likely to need to lift anything. Therefore they are given the tools and knowledge to do it safely themselves.

If you have been sent on a manual handling course, or you are organising one for your staff then you will want to know how long it will last. Depending on the delivery of the course you can expect it to last anywhere between two and four hours.

LearnHub is currently undergoing essential maintenance. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Please bear with us as we work to enhance your learning experience.

Thank you Learn Q