Close Icon
Home / Blog / Safeguarding / Safeguarding Workers: Guide to Safe Manual Handling

What are the Rules for Safe Manual Handling?

You may think that manual handling is something that only happens in certain industries, but this is not the case. Whilst some industries will be more likely to use manual handling on a day-to-day basis, it is important to remember that manual handling is something that every industry needs to be aware of.

Another key thing to remember about manual handling is that the focus should always be on prioritising the safety of every worker. This should always be through the proper manual handling techniques and ensuring that they understand the importance that they play in their everyday tasks.

Understanding Manual Handling

The first thing to do when it comes to manual handling is to understand what can be seen as a manual handling task.

A manual handling task is any that involves a load that is being either transported or supported using hands or bodily force. This could be by lifting, by lowering, pushing or pulling the load. It could also be moving or carrying a load from one place to another.

A load is something that can be moved. For many, it will be a box or another package, but it could also be an animal, a person, or even something that you need to push around a premises, such as a cage or a pallet truck.

It is important to recognise that manual handling comes in a variety of forms and activities. Not just the usual that you may think of when you consider what manual handling may look like.

Risks and Consequences

Image of person with backache for Learn Q Safeguarding Workers Guide to Safe Manual Handling blogOne of the most obvious risks and consequences that can occur with poor manual handling is injuries. These could be short-term injuries such as cuts and sprains, or something much longer term such as broken bones or musculoskeletal injuries too.

It is also important to note that poor manual handling can also increase the risk of developing mental health issues, or make existing mental health issues worse. This includes stress, anxiety, and depression.

Principles for Safe Manual Handling

Safe manual handling has many factors that you need to keep in mind and think of to ensure that you are operating in a way that is safe and will keep you protected.

This includes aspects such as assessing the situation, ensuring that you follow the right techniques and providing tools, training, and teamwork that are going to make the manual handling task that little bit easier and safer too.


The first thing that you should always do before you initiate a manual handling task, is taking the time to step back and assess the situation. You need to think about not only the load that needs to be moved or lifted but also the environment that it is in.

Assessing will show you the potential risks that may occur during the task and give you a chance to think about how you can reduce the possible impact that these may then have on you during the task at hand.

You not only need to think about the load and the environment but also the person of course. Who they are and their ability may have an impact on what is likely to happen during the task and what help they may then need.

Once you have thought about the situation and the load, you can then determine whether or not you are going to want to provide any assistance to the person who is carrying out the lift. This could be done by ensuring that the lift is seen as a team lift and move. Or it could be providing mechanical aids which are designed to ensure that the lift is much smoother, easier, and of course, safer too.

Proper Technique

One of the key elements of manual handling is thinking about the proper lifting techniques. Having this knowledge is the key aspect of manual handling and helps to keep those who are lifting as safe as possible.

The first thing that you need to remember is that you should always lift with your legs, not your back. By ensuring that your legs take the strain of the lift, you will be protecting your back muscles and your spine, which will reduce the possibility of injuries occurring.

You should always ensure that you approach any manual handling task with a stable posture, this can be achieved by keeping your feet apart, with one leg slightly in front of the other to help you to balance.

The load should be securely gripped, using gloves if needed to improve the grip and should be held as close to your body as you can.

You need to bend your knees and hips at the beginning of the lift, the back should be only partially bent. The load should be lifted with the motion of your straightening up your legs, this will then naturally raise the load and means that you won’t have to then lift with your back.

It is important that you only ever lift a load that you feel comfortable lifting. If you have pain, or discomfort during the lift or then carrying the load, you should ensure that you have equipment to help you, or make it a team lift instead.


Image of care home for Learn Q Safeguarding Workers Guide to Safe Manual Handling blogAs we have already mentioned, there are going to be times when a lift is too much for one person to lift and they are going to need to have someone else supporting them in their lift. This is a great way to keep everyone safe and ensure that manual handling injuries are reduced.

Of course, when you are lifting something together, you need to ensure that you are working together, especially when the load is particularly heavy or awkward.

It is key that you always communicate with anyone who is helping you to lift. Not only because this will keep you both safe, but also because it can make lifting and carrying the load as easy as possible.

Communication and teamwork are not only important during the actual lift, they are important in the early stages too, as those around you may not realise that you need help without you telling them that you need that help.

Training and Education

It is a legal obligation of employers to ensure that their staff members have relevant and comprehensive training when it comes to manual handling practices. By providing them with this training, they are ensuring that those employees can understand what makes for good manual handling and take charge of ensuring their safety.

Whilst it is important that training is provided to staff members as a part of their induction training when they first start in a business, this doesn’t mean that manual handling is then ignored. Manual handling training must be repeated and ongoing. It should be repeated yearly or every other year, as this will keep it refreshed in the minds of the employees every single day.

Use of Equipment

Another way to make manual handling that little bit easier is to use the wealth of equipment that is there to help make lifting and moving loads easier.

There is a wealth of mechanical aids that are designed to, in the first place, alleviate the physical strain that can be placed on the human body when something is lifted and moved. These vary in their type and their use.

Some of the most common manual handling equipment that you may end up using include:

  • Hoists
  • Slide Sheets
  • Hand trucks
  • Carts
  • Book trucks
  • Pallet jacks

Of course, you need to think about what the load is, where it needs to move to and of course, how heavy or awkward it is.

Organisation of Work

Whilst there are going to be times when manual handling has to happen (and happen safely of course) there are going to be times when you can organise the work in a way that reduces the need for manual handling.

You can break up larger loads into smaller parts, which will make them much easier to carry and move around. You can also place the loads in a location that is closer to where they need to be, which means that the distance that the load is carried is reduced.

Another way that you can try to reduce the need for manual handling is to find processes and technologies, such as automation, to try and reduce this and to keep those who are working on the task safer.

Regular Breaks

It is not only tasks that require lifting heavy or awkward loads that can cause an issue for people. But it can also be tasks that are repetitive or prolonged. These can, over time, cause the body to be put under stress and strain, which can then cause injuries and possibly even longer-term disorders.

This means that those who are carrying out those tasks should be encouraged to take regular breaks. Not only does this take them away from the repetitive task (and the risk that it then poses) but it also helps to improve their wellbeing. They will feel that they can move away from the task at hand, and they will also feel that you are taking care of their safety too.

Implementation in the UK Workplace

Two main pieces of legal documentation relate to manual handling here in the UK. These are the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

Both of these are designed to outline the key approaches that need to be taken to keep employees safe whilst they are working and carrying out their everyday tasks.

Not only this, but it also highlights the responsibilities of employers too. Employers should always recognise what part they play in UK health and safety legislation, what this means for them and of course, what may happen if they do not follow it.

Aside from the possible legal and financial implications, if the law is not followed in manual handling, then they could make their workplace not a safe place to be.

Safeguarding Training

  • Learn Q’s Safeguarding Children Level 1 is an introductory course that provides a basic understanding of safeguarding vulnerable children. It covers the concept of safeguarding, the importance of safeguarding, the legislation in place to protect vulnerable children, the signs of abuse and how to avoid them, and how to respond when a vulnerable child discloses they are being abused or neglected. This course is suitable for anyone who works with vulnerable children, including managers, supervisors, employees, and volunteers at all levels.
  • Learn Q’s Safeguarding Children Level 2 course, on the other hand, is a more advanced course that builds on the knowledge gained in Level 1. It provides a more in-depth understanding of safeguarding, including recognising abuse, the responsibilities of different safeguarding roles, effective communication, and how to handle concerns and incidents related to safeguarding. This course is designed for those with additional safeguarding responsibilities, such as those who work in hospitals, general practices, nursing homes, care homes, or domiciliary care, as well as in religious organisations and community organisations.
  • The Safeguarding Adults Level 1 course (£25) offered by Learn Q in the UK covers several key areas crucial for the protection of vulnerable adults. Participants will learn about the concept of safeguarding vulnerable adults, the importance of safeguarding, relevant legislation, recognising signs of abuse, responding to disclosures of abuse or neglect, and reporting safeguarding concerns while maintaining confidentiality.
  • The Safeguarding Adults Level 2 course (£28) at Learn Q is designed for individuals with additional safeguarding responsibilities, particularly those working in settings like hospitals, general practices, nursing homes, care homes, domiciliary care, religious organisations, and community organisations. It is ideal for seasoned team members who have already completed introductory Level 1 training. The course content includes understanding the concept of safeguarding vulnerable adults, the importance of safeguarding, relevant legislation, signs of abuse, responding to abuse or neglect disclosures, reporting safeguarding concerns, maintaining confidentiality, understanding workplace safeguarding roles and responsibilities, multi-agency working, and effective communication skills​
  • Learn Q’s Preventing Radicalisation course is designed to help frontline sectors to be aware of how to prevent radicalism and extremism. Especially for individuals who have contact with adults who may be vulnerable. It raises awareness of the signs and techniques of radicalisation so that you can provide support and guidance to individuals in need as well as save their lives if you can identify these signs.

You can get further savings by purchasing one of Learn Qs money saving bundles, such as:

These courses are ideal for those who work in hospitals, general practices, nursing homes, care homes, domiciliary care, as well as in religious and community organisations. By completing this course, you will be better equipped to handle safeguarding concerns and to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults.

At Learn Q, we are committed to providing high-quality training that meets the needs of professionals across a range of industries. Our Safeguarding Children courses are designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to excel in your role and make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children. Sign up today and take the next step in your career!

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

Related Articles

Browse Learn Q Blog

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