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Hazard
Manual handling

Hazard Knowledge

Manual handling relates to moving items by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling.

For personnel, manual handling may include moving:

  • Firefighting and rescue equipment such as:
    • Ladders
    • Hoses
    • Tools
    • Machinery
  • Casualties, in particular bariatric casualties – see Manual handling: Casualties and Bariatric casualty
  • Animals – see to Incidents involving animals

The weight of the item is an important factor, but many other factors can create a risk of injury, for example:

  • The frequency of picking up or carrying an item
  • The distance the item is being carried
  • The location of the item when it is picked up or put down
  • Twisting, bending or stretching while carrying out a task
  • The posture adopted while carrying out a task

Manual handling injuries are part of a wider group of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs include any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the upper or lower limbs, or the back. Recent or existing injuries are additional factors in the development of MSDs.

In controlled environments these risks can be reduced by making loads smaller or lighter, and organising the environment to make tasks less stressful on joints and muscles.