Advice On The Manual Handling Weight Limit For Workplaces

By Max Misoka. Last Updated 24th June 2022. Did you know that there is a manual handling weight limit that people can safely lift? And did you know that if you sustain an injury in the workplace due to a manual handling accident that wasn’t your fault, you could claim compensation from your employer?

We have created this guide to help you understand the injuries you could suffer if you lift more than the manual handling maximum weight. We also want to help you understand in which situations you could make a workplace injury claim against your employer for those injuries.

Manual handling weight limit for workplaces guide

Manual handling weight limit for workplaces guide

Here at, we provide guidance on a variety of different personal injury claims. While this guide focuses on answering common questions about the maximum weight that can be lifted at work and how to claim for a workplace injury, our advisors could also offer free legal advice over the phone on these and other cases.

They could even put you in touch with a No Win No Fee personal injury lawyer that could help you receive the compensation you deserve. If you have a claim you’d like help with, why not call our expert advisors for a free case assessment on 0161 696 9685?

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A Guide To The Workplace Manual Handling Weight Limit

If you lift something too heavy, it could have several unpleasant consequences. Musculoskeletal injuries are some of the most common work-related injuries reported. According to figures from the Labour Force Survey for 2019/2020 released by the Health and Safety Executive, there were 8.9 million working days lost to musculoskeletal disorders. In addition to this, 480,000 people were reported as suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2019/20.

It is your employer’s responsibility to protect your safety and health at work as far as they reasonably can. If your job involves manual handling, your employer should provide you with proper training in lifting safely, as it is important to use the proper technique to avoid the risk of injury. 

Your employer should assess the risks of manual handling tasks before you begin them. You should also never lift loads that are too heavy. But what is ‘too heavy’? And what happens if you lift a load that is heavier than the manual handling weight limit? If you are injured, could you make a claim against your employer for your injuries?

We answer all these questions and more in the below sections. We also provide insight into the compensation payouts and give you guidance on calculating compensation for this type of personal injury claim. In addition to all this, we show you how to obtain free legal advice and how this could benefit you. 

Manual Handling And Lifting Compensation Calculator

Before we discuss the appropriate weight limit in more detail, let us discuss the injuries and compensation amounts appropriate for those injuries.

How Manual Handling Weight Limit Damages Are Calculated

To evidence your injuries, you would need to attend an appointment with an independent medical professional. They would review your medical notes, examine you and write a medical report that details your condition. It should also contain their professional opinion on your prognosis. This could be used to work out how much compensation could be appropriate for your claim.

Manual Handling Claims – Compensation Guidelines

One of the heads of losses in a successful claim is general damages. This relates to the psychological and physical injuries caused as a result of the negligence. The Judicial College Guidelines can give you with a clearer idea of your potential general damages compensation.

The latest publication from 2022 has supplied these up-to-date figures. However, please bear in mind that these figures are just guidelines only as every claim is unique.

InjuryNotesGuideline Compensation Bracket
Neck injuries (Severe) (ii)Cervical spine disc fractures or damage that are serious. These could lead to disabilities that are considerably severe, such as loss of function in one limb or more, permanent brachial plexus damage, or substantial movement loss in the neck.£65,740 to £130,930
Neck injury (Severe) (iii)These awards would be calculated based on the length of time before the most serious of symptoms were ameliorated, the prognosis and the extent to which treatment was needed. Injuries in this bracket could include severe soft tissue damage, rupture to tendons, dislocations and fractures. They would lead to significant permanent disability and chronic conditions.£45,470 to £55,990
Neck injury (Moderate) (i)Injured parties would suffer severe symptoms immediately. Spinal fusion may be necessary following dislocation or fracture. Chronic conditions could also be included in this bracket, usually where there are referred symptoms to other body parts, or severe soft tissue damage to both the back and the neck.£24,990 to £38,490
Neck injury (Moderate) (ii)Cases in this bracket could include severe disc lesions or soft tissue wrenching injuries. Cervical spondylosis could feature, or serious limitations of movement, as well as recurring pain, stiffness and discomfort. Increased risk of future harm could also feature as could a need for future surgery. In addition, accelerations or exacerbations of pre-existing conditions over 5 years could be included within this bracket.£13,740 to £24,990
Neck injury (Moderate) (iii)Accelerations or exacerbations of pre-existing conditions over a shorter period of time could be included within this bracket.£7,890 to £13,740
Back injuries (Severe) (ii)Cases that have special features taking them above other brackets for orthopaedic injuries. These could include damage to the nerve roots causing sensation loss, impairment of bladder or bowel function, mobility impairment, scarring and sexual difficulties.£74,160 to £88,430
Back injuries (Severe) (iii)Lesions or fractures to discs or vertebral bodies, or soft tissue damage causing chronic conditions. Despite treatment, continuing disabilities would remain. These disabilities could include severe discomfort/pain, agility impairment depression, change of personality, arthritis risk and impairment of sexual function.£38,780 to £69,730
Back injuries (Moderate) (i)Disabilities would be less severe than the above bracket. A wide variety of injuries could be placed in this bracket such as crush injuries to the lumbar vertebrae causing constant pain and risk of osteoarthritis. Other examples could include prolapsed discs requiring surgery, or intervertebral disc damage with irritation at the nerve root causing reduced mobility.£27,760 to £38,780
Back injuries (Moderate) (ii)Frequently encountered back injuries, which could include muscle/ligament disturbance causing backache.£12,510 to £27,760
Back injuries (Minor)Less serious disc prolapses, strains and sprains.Up to £12,510

If you would like to learn more about UK manual handling regulations or just want to see if you can claim, please contact us for a free consultation using the details above.

Damages For Manual Handling Weight Limit Accidents And Injuries

If you’re claiming compensation for a back injury, neck injury, or another injury caused by a workplace accident involving manual handling, you could be eligible to claim for general damages and special damages.

General Damages

The non-pecuniary (non-financial) compensation you could claim for the suffering, pain and loss of amenity you endure due to your injuries fall under general damages. Lawyers calculate these by assessing all the evidence and facts surrounding your injury. The figures in the table above are representative of general damages.

Special Damages

Special damages relate to the quantifiable financial expenses associated with your injuries. You would have to provide proof of any costs or losses you’ve experienced as a direct result of your accident and injuries to claim for them. Different types of special damages are described below.

Care Costs

In some cases, if you sustain injuries that result in you not being able to dress, wash, or feed yourself, you might require care at home. You could include care costs as special damages within your claim. This includes both professional care and care you may receive from friends and family members. 

Travel Costs

These could include costs that you incur from travelling to medical appointments or to meet with your personal injury lawyer.

Medical Expenses

You could claim medical expenses such as private physiotherapy costs, counselling fees or prescription costs as special damages.

Loss Of Income

If you take unpaid time off work because you need to recover from your injuries, you could claim any loss of income you suffer as a result. Loss of earnings claims could also include overtime and bonuses.

What Are Workplace Manual Handling Weight Limits?

Further down the article, this guide will discuss the manual handling weight limit in the UK. The reason there is a weight limit for manual handling relates to employee safety. This means that you may be able to claim if you have evidence showing that your employer asked you to lift an object that is heavier than specified in the regulations, causing your injury.

Before we look at the manual handling weight limit, we should mention that manual handling does not only include lifting and lowering loads. The Manual Operations Handling Regulations 1992 include pushing and pulling and carrying activities, which could also pose a risk of injury.

According to manual handling guidelines on the HSE website, the manual handling weight limit depends on various factors. There is no specific weight limit contained in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 2002. 

Later on in this guide, we show some lifting and lowering manual handling guidance from the HSE website, but these should not necessarily be used as ‘safe limits’. However, working outside of these ‘limits’ could increase a person’s risk of injury.

Guidelines On Safe Manual Handling

According to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, an employer’s responsibilities could be broken down into three measures: avoid, assess and reduce.

Employers should try to avoid their staff performing manual handling activities that pose a risk of injury. Of course, this is not always possible. In such cases, your employer should see if they could take steps to reduce the risk. They could opt to provide lifting equipment to help reduce the risk of injury, for example.

If your employer has not taken steps to protect your safety and health at work by not following the requirements of the manual handling regulations 1992, you could make a claim against them for injuries you sustain as a result.

What Is The Maximum Weight You Can Lift At Work?

If you’re wondering what is the maximum weight that can be lifted at work, you might be interested in the image below. We have reproduced this image from the HSE website, which shows the ‘safe zones’ for lifting as well as suggested weight limits for lifting and lowering activities. You will note that there are different limits for women and men.


Manual Handling Risk Assessments And Things To Think About

When your employer performs a risk assessment on a manual handling task, they should consider the tasks, the loads, the working environment, the individual’s capability, and the weight of a load, as per the manual handling guidelines from the HSE.

Safe Manual Handling Weight Limits For Men

In general terms, loads held close to the body could be lifted with less risk than those held away from the body. According to the manual handling guidelines, the heaviest load a man could lift safely would be 25kg if they were to lift a load close to the body at around waist height. 

The lower limit could be 5kg for loads held away from the body at each end of the range, high up to low down. However, each task should be risk assessed according to the environment, the person’s capability, the load itself, and the task’s repetitiveness.

Safe Manual Handling Weight Limits For Women

For women handling loads at waist height, close to the body, the suggested limit is 16Kg, while for loads away from the body at the highest and lowest ends of the range, the limit drops to 3kg. It would be important for a risk assessment to consider the capabilities, and special consideration should be given if a woman is pregnant or has recently given birth.

Are Weights Below The Guidelines Always Safe To Lift?

The manual handling weight limit isn’t the only thing you should consider before handling a load. You should also consider the following:

  • Can you grip the load properly?
  • Are you fit enough to lift the load?
  • Are the workplace conditions safe for you to handle the load?
  • Does the lifting require you to twist or bend?
  • Are you handling in a confined space?
  • Is the lifting task a repetitive activity?

Your employer should carry out a risk assessment for any manual handling activities they require you to undertake. If they do not, and you suffer injuries as a result, you could be eligible to make a claim against them.

Factors Affecting How Much You Could Lift Or Carry

The amount of weight you can lift could depend on the below four factors:

  1. Whether a load is below the recommended manual handling maximum weight or not, the task at hand can affect your ability if you have to handle it for a long period or repeatedly.
  2. Who is performing the task? Your age or physical dimensions and fitness could also affect your ability.
  3. If you are handling an oversized or bulky load, the load could affect your ability to handle it.
  4. Your environment. If you don’t have enough space or cannot see properly around the load, it could also influence your ability to handle it.

What Should You Do If You Are Injured In A Manual Handling Accident?

If you are injured in a manual handling accident, there are certain steps you may need to take:

  1. Report the accident to your employer. Your employer may have to report your injury under RIDDOR.
  2. Get medical attention. Whether you sustain a knee injury from twisting, a lower back injury or a spinal injury, you should take steps to get the most appropriate advice and treatment for your injury. Seeing a doctor early on could also help to evidence your injury. However, you would also have to see an independent medical expert as part of your claim.
  3. Take photographs of the scene and your injuries. If you’ve been told to lift something over the manual handling weight limit, it could be a good idea to get a photo of the load’s weight.
  4. Get witness contact details. If anyone witnessed the incident, it could be a good idea to take their contact details.
  5. Get legal advice. Our advisors could provide free legal advice to you over the phone. They could also connect you with a workplace injury lawyer to help you with a claim.

Workplace Manual Handling FAQs

Can I Refuse To Lift Heavy Objects At Work?

If your employer has not given you training on manual handling techniques or you do not feel you could safely lift a load, you should tell them. Suppose your job involves lifting loads, and you have been given training and equipment to reduce your risk of injury. In that case, you may not be able to refuse a reasonable request from your employer to handle a load without good cause.

Can I Lift 20kg?

Many people would consider 20kg their limit when it comes to the weight they feel they could lift safely. However, not every individual would be able to safely lift 20kg, which is why your employer should perform a manual handling risk assessment before they ask you to handle a load.

What Are The Dos And Don’ts Of Manual Handling?

When performing manual handling tasks, there are certain dos and don’ts you should consider:


  • Keep the load within the safe handling zones.
  • Keep your head straight.
  • Put down the load when necessary and adjust it.
  • Move smoothly.


  • Bend your back.
  • Turn or twist.
  • Look at your feet while you are carrying.
  • Carry loads that block your vision.
  • Lift the load above your shoulders or below your waist where possible.

What Are The Manual Handling Regulations 1992 Employee Responsibilities?

While your employer should consider what the maximum weight you can lift at work is and should assess manual handling tasks for risks, employees also have responsibilities for their own safety. Employees should make full and proper use of their employer to reduce injury risk.

No Win No Fee Manual Handling And Lifting Accidents

Would you like to make a claim for a knee injury, lower back injury, or another type of workplace manual handling injury? If so, you might be considering whether or not to get a personal injury lawyer to help you. 

Did you know you could obtain assistance from a personal injury lawyer without paying them until your compensation comes through? You can if you choose a lawyer that works under No Win No Fee terms.

How Do No Win No Fee Claims Work?

  1. Your chosen lawyer sends a No Win No Fee agreement to you and asks you to sign and return it. The document contains details of the success fee (a small, legally capped percentage of your compensation), which is paid out of your compensation payout.
  2. Once you sign the agreement and send it back, your solicitor begins work on your claim. They build a case for you and negotiate with the liable party for compensation.
  3. Once the liable party (or their insurer) pays your compensation, your solicitor deducts the success fee. The rest of the compensation would be for your benefit.

If your claim fails and doesn’t result in compensation, you don’t pay the success fee. You don’t need to cover your solicitor’s costs if your case fails either. If you want more information about these payments terms, why not take a look at our guide

Alternatively, why not call our team? Our advisors will be happy to answer any questions you might have. They could even put you in touch with a No Win No Fee personal injury lawyer from our panel.

Contact Us

Now you know more about the manual handling weight limit, you may be wondering whether you could make a claim for your injuries. If so, we could help. You can call us at any time for free legal advice relating to your personal injury claim. We could check your eligibility to claim and we could even put you in touch with a personal injury solicitor to help you. To speak to our friendly expert team, simply:

More Information

In this final section, we have included links to information we believe you may find useful when it comes to manual handling weight limit personal injury claims.

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 – You can find legislation on lifting equipment here.

Did You Sustain A Back Injury? – Back pain advice can be found on the NHS website, via this link.

Manual Handling Guidance For Carers – Here, you can obtain guidance on lifting people.

Partially To Blame For A Workplace Accident – Here, you could find out if you could claim for an accident you are partially at fault for.

Back Injury At Work Claims – There are other ways in which you could injure your back at work. Why not find out if you could make a claim by reading this guide?

Advice On Industrial Injury Claims – You can find out more about making an industrial injury claim here.

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