Assessing manual handling risks

One way to assess manual handling activities is to look at four specific areas – Task, Individual, Load and Environment (easily remembered by the acronym TILE).  Note that Load (i.e. weight) is only one of the four factors which determine the risks; the other three issues can be equally, or more, important, depending on circumstances.

Key factors to consider are:

  1. Task: Does the activity involve twisting, stooping, bending, reaching upwards? What is the distance the load has to be moved? How often does the load have to be moved?  Is there pushing, pulling or precise positioning of the load, sudden movement, inadequate rest or recovery periods, team handling or seated work?
  2. Individual It is important to look at each individual’s physical capability before carrying out a manual handling task. Anyone with a known injury or disability should be individually assessed. Does the individual require unusual strength or height for the activity, are they pregnant, disabled or suffering from a health problem. Is specialist knowledge or training required?
  3. Load Is the load heavy, bulky, unwieldy, difficult to grasp, sharp, hot, cold, difficult to grip, are the contents likely to move or shift?
  4. Environment Are there space constraints, uneven, slippery or unstable floors, variations in floor levels, extremely hot, cold or humid conditions, poor lighting, poor ventilation, gusty winds, cold, wet conditions; are there any restrictions on movement related to clothing or Personal Protective Equipment?

There are two types of risk assessment recommended;

  • A filtering risk assessment so you can see if the risks are low or not (e.g. MAC assessment)
  • A specialized full risk assessment looking at all the TILE factors for activities which are not low risk (i.e. after the MAC)

It is very important to note that for higher risk handling jobs, if you do a MAC, and only a MAC, you have not met the requirements of the Regulations.  A MAC is not a full risk assessment.  It is simply a useful tool to determine where you need to do a full assessment considering all the TILE factors.

More details on risk assessment will be added to this page once the NR Manual Handling Improvement Programme is fully underway but in the meantime the following give more information on the risk assessment filters:-

HSE MAC tool for lifting, lowering, carrying, team handling

HSE RAPP tool for pushing and pulling

This section will be updated with links to the Network Rail risk assessment proformas as part of the Manual Handling Improvement Programme.  In the meantime, the Health and Safety Executive can provide more information:-

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