Is there a maximum weight a person can lift during their work?

Is there a maximum weight a person can lift during their work?

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) set no specific requirements such as weight limits.

The ergonomic approach shows clearly that such requirements are based on too simple a view of the problem and may lead to incorrect conclusions. Instead, an ergonomic assessment based on a range of relevant factors is used to determine the risk of injury and point the way to remedial action.

The Regulations establish the following clear hierarchy of control measures:

	Avoid hazardous manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable, for example by redesigning the task to avoid moving the load or by automating or mechanising the process.

	Make a suitable and sufficient assessment of any hazardous manual handling operations that cannot be avoided.

	Reduce the risk of injury from those operations so far as is reasonably practicable. Where possible, you should provide mechanical assistance, for example a sack trolley or hoist. Where this is not reasonably practicable, look at ways of changing the task, the load and working environment.

Modern medical and scientific opinion accepts the scale of the problem and stresses the importance of an ergonomic approach to remove or reduce the risk of manual handling injury. Ergonomics is sometimes described as 'fitting the job to the person, rather than the person to the job'. The ergonomic approach looks at manual handling as a whole. It takes into account a range of relevant factors, including the nature of the task, the load, the working environment and individual capability and requires worker participation.

When a more detailed assessment is necessary it should follow the broad structure set out in Schedule 1 to the Regulations. The Schedule lists a number of questions in five categories:

	the task;

	the load;

	the working environment;

	individual capability (this category is discussed in more detail under regulation 4(3) and its guidance); and

	other factors, for example use of protective clothing.

Each of these categories may influence the others and none of them can be considered on their own. However, to carry out an assessment in a structured way it is often helpful to begin by breaking the operations down into separate, more manageable items.


Manual handling. Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended). Guidance on Regulations L23 (Third edition) HSE Books 2004 ISBN 0 7176 2823 X , price £8.95

There are also a number of free information leaflets available:

Getting to grips with manual handling: A short guide INDG143(rev2)

Aching arms (or RSI) in small businesses INDG171(rev1)

Mark a parcel - save a back INDG348

Manual handling assessment charts INDG383

Are you making the best use of lifting and handling aids? INDG398

The free leaflets referenced above are available to view and print from the [HSE website](

All of the publications referred to are available from HSE Books PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA Tel: 01787 881165 Fax: 01787 313995