The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 – A Guide 

With manual handling accidents making up for a third of all workplace accidents in the UK, each year, more than 300,000 workers nationwide suffer back pain caused by an injury associated with manual handling operations. If your business involves manual handling activities, such as carrying, lifting, pushing, moving and transporting items, protecting your employees from such work-related risks is your legal responsibility. 

To ensure regulatory compliance, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the relevant health and safety legislation, especially The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 – the main UK legislation associated with manual handling. Read along to find out what is covered by the regulation and how to apply it correctly in the workplace. 

 

What is the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992?

Introduced in 1992 and updated in 2002, The Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) 1992 is a health and safety legislation that address the best practices for managing workplace risks related to the manual handling or moving of objects, as well as people and animals. 

In summary, MHOR explains how to identify, assess and manage the risks associated with all manual handling tasks. It covers four main areas of consideration:

  • What is the operation? –  The type of manual handling activity (lifting, pushing, pulling, transporting, etc)
  • Who is doing it? – The skills, knowledge and capabilities of the person doing the task and how they could pose a risk
  • What is being handled? – The type of load (inanimate objects, such as boxes, or people and animals)
  • Where is the action taking place? – The environment and any risk factors in it 

MHOR also lays out the following three steps to reduce the risks: 

  1. Avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable
  2. Assess any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided
  3. Reduce the risk of injury so far as is reasonably practicable

Who does the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 apply to?

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 covers the following health and safety responsibilities applicable both to employers and employees:

Employers are responsible for ensuring that all reasonably predictable risks related to manual handling activities have been correctly identified, assessed and managed to ensure the safety of their employees. This involves conducting risk assessments for all potential hazards. 

Employees are required to follow all health and safety procedures outlined by the employer and use all equipment correctly, as well as ensure that their actions don’t endanger themselves or others around them. They should also help identify hazards and report any potential health and safety risks

 

The importance of risk assessments for MHOR compliance 

You may have noticed that the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 often uses the term “reasonably practicable” and you might be wondering what this actually means. This term refers to the correct evaluation of the potential risk and the relationship between the probability of the risk and the cost of the control measures. 

For example, if the probability of a manual handling accident is high and the risk of injury is also high, then this justifies the time, money and effort involved with taking specific control measures. If the likelihood of someone getting hurt is low and the potential harm is negligible, then it may not be reasonable to direct a lot of resources into the management of this particular risk. 

To find out the right balance, you need to conduct a risk assessment. This is why regular risk assessments are included in the employer’s responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA), as well as The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  

Risk assessment software tools, such as RiskMach, can help you organise the entire risk management process from the design risk assessment to the risk evaluation and risk control implementation. Going paperless carries a lot of advantages, from better visibility to improved collaboration and advanced reporting, all leading to compliance with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.

 Assessing the risks correctly is extremely important as it lays the foundation of all your health and safety compliance activities.

 

Benefits of a manual handling policy in the workplace

To ensure health and safety at any workplace where manual handling operations are involved, you must implement a comprehensive manual handling policy in line with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. 

In doing so, you limit the risk of injuries related to manual handling sustained by your employees and maintain efficiency across all your health and safety practices. Demonstrating a proactive approach to risk management helps establish regulatory compliance and fulfil your legal duties as an employer.

In addition to that, you reduce the costs associated with manual handling injuries. With businesses in the UK reportedly spending over £16 billion per year on ill health and injuries in the workplace, this could have a significant financial impact on your organisation.