What Manual Handling Weight Limits Apply To Workplaces?

By Jo Anderson. Last Updated 17th January 2024. Welcome to our guide on what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces and what’s the maximum weight to lift at work. We offer insight into making manual handling injury claims if you’ve been asked to lift over the manual handling weight limit at work and have been injured as a result of lifting over the safe lifting weight at work .

We also explain some common injuries from manual handling. Plus, we explain what manual handling injury compensation could include.

The focus of this article is on making a personal injury claim for a work-related injury caused by manual lifting. We will look at the responsibility of the employer to prevent such an accident at work and the process an employee can take to get a claim underway if they’ve been injured after being asked to lift over the maximum weight to lift at work.

Our No Win No Fee manual handling injury claims team is available 24 hours a day on 0800 073 8801 to provide you with any help or advice you need.

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Manual handling weight limit guide

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Guidelines On Safe Lifting Limits In The Workplace

Per the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA), all employers must take reasonably practicable steps to prevent employees from suffering harm from their work or workplace. This is their duty of care. Should they fail to do so, and you suffer an injury as a result, you could be eligible to make a personal injury claim. 

If, for example, you have been told to lift an unsafe heavy load despite raising your concerns or you have not received adequate manual handling training in lifting safely, this could be considered as your employer breaching their duty of care.

The manual handling weight limit that applies to workers depends on a number of factors, including where the load is to be handled and the person who is completing the task. To this end, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a guide for employers regarding the safe management of manual handling tasks at work. This guide provides guideline safe listing limits for both male and female employees. These are:

  • Shoulder height: 7kg to 13kg for women and 10kg to 20kg for men.
  • Elbow height: 10kg to 16kg for women and 15kg to 25kg for men.
  • Knuckle height (when arms are down): 7kg to 13kg for women and 10kg to 20kg for men.
  • Mid lower leg height: 3kg to 7kg for women and 5kg to 10kg for men.

If you suffered a manual handling injury and would like to know whether you could make a personal injury claim, you can contact one of our advisors today for a free case assessment.

Manual Handling Maximum Weight – Example Injuries If Exceeded

As we have stated already in this guide, generally, for manual handling, the maximum weight limit for men is 25kg and for women is 16kg. If these lifting limits were to be exceeded, there are various types of injuries that you could suffer from. Some examples include:

  • A back injury – This could be slipped discs in the back and could be caused by poor posture, twisting or swooping.
  • Strains and sprains – Carrying heavy loads can lead to your muscles spraining or straining in the back, arms or wrists.
  • Breaks or fractures – If you were to drop a heavy load that you were carrying, this could potentially result in a break or fracture, such as a broken foot or a fractured finger.
  • Hernias – If a load is too heavy, and it results in you straining to lift it, this could potentially lead to a hernia which could cause you severe discomfort and pain if left untreated.

No matter what injury you have suffered, to be eligible for compensation you must be able to prove that your injury was caused by your employer breaching their duty of care.

Contact our advisors today for more guidance on the maximum weight for manual handling. They could also offer you free legal advice concerning your personal injury claim.

Injuries Relating To The Manual Handling Weight Limit – Claim Time Limits

As we’ve already mentioned, the HSE provides guidelines for the manual handling maximum weight. If you’ve suffered an injury because your employer asked you to lift over the manual handling weight limit, you may be able to make a personal injury claim.

However, you will also need to ensure that you start your claim within the relevant time limit. Usually, you’ll have three years to start your claim, as stated in the Limitation Act 1980. This time limit begins from the date of your accident.

There are some exceptions to this rule. If someone was under eighteen when they were injured, then the time limit is frozen until their eighteenth birthday. During this period, a court-appointed litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf. From their 18th birthday, they will then have 3 years to start their claim if one has not already been made.

Likewise, if someone lacks the mental capacity to make a claim for themself, the time limit is frozen indefinitely, and a litigation friend could make a claim on their behalf.  If they were to regain this mental capacity, then they will have 3 years to start their claim from this date if one has not already been made.

Read on to find out more about the recommended max weight to lift at work, or get in touch with our advisors today to find out if you are within the time limit to start a claim.

Do I Need Evidence To Claim For An Injury Caused By Manual Handling And Lifting?

If you were injured in an accident at work involving manual handling and lifting, you’ll need to prove that negligence occurred in order to be able to claim. Collecting sufficient evidence could help support your personal injury claim, as it could help prove that your employer was liable for the accident and the injuries you suffered.

Below are a few examples of evidence that could support your claim:

  • A copy of the report in the workplace accident book.
  • CCTV footage of the accident if your workplace has security cameras.
  • A copy of your medical records stating the injuries you suffered due to your employer asking you to exceed the manual handling limit.
  • The contact details of any witness to the accident, so that they can provide a statement at a later date.

Contact our advisors if you have any questions regarding heavy lifting at work and the law in place regarding manual handling. Additionally, they may connect you with one of our solicitors who could help you gather evidence, provided you have a valid claim.

Injuries From Manual Handling – Calculating Compensation Payouts

If you’re interested in claiming for injuries from manual handling, you might want to know how to go about calculating compensation payouts. If this is the case, it’s important to realise that a manual handling claims calculator would only provide you with a rough estimate.

When calculating manual handling injury compensation, courts and lawyers look at the following factors:

  • How severe your initial injury was
  • The short-and long-term effects on your quality of life
  • The impact of the injury on your mental health
  • Whether you’ve lost out on income or incurred costs from the manual handling injury

Generally, though, each settlement may comprise up to two heads of claim: general and special damages. General damages compensate for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries. Special damages compensate for financial losses incurred due to your injuries.

The table below could give you some guidance on compensation for the pain and suffering of injuries from manual handling. This is only a rough guide, however. The figures come from the Judicial College Guidelines. This is a publication that lawyers could use to value general damages.


Injury Severity Information Compensation
A combination of severe injuries with financial losses. Severe Multiple severe injuries with associated financial losses and expenses such as medical costs and loss of income. Up to £500,000+
Back Severe (iii) Injuries such as disc fractures or lesions, or soft tissue injuries that lead to chronic conditions and various disabilities despite undergoing treatment. £38,780 to £69.730
Back Minor (i) A sprain, strain, disc prolapse or soft tissue injury that fully recovers without needing surgery within 2-5 years. £7,890 to £12,510
Foot Moderate A permanent deformity due to displaced metatarsal fractures. There is also a risk of needing future surgery or long-term osteoarthritis. £13,740 to £24,990
Wrist (c) A less serious wrist injury that results in a degree of persisting stiffness and pain. £12,590 to £24,500
Wrist (d) Where a soft tissue injury in the wrist takes longer than a year to completely heal. £6,080 to £10,350
Hernia (a) Limitation on employment and physical activities with continuing pain after the hernia is repaired. £14,900 to £24,170
Hernia (b) A direct inguinal hernia, that has some risk of reoccuring even after being repaired. £7,010 to £9,100
Shoulder Serious The lower part of the brachial plexus is damaged and the shoulder is dislocated. This causes pain in the neck and shoulder with aching in the arm. £12,770 to £19,200
Toe Serious Two or more toes have been crushed which will cause pain and discomfort. £9,600 to £13,740
Hand Fracture to Index Finger The fracture may have mended quickly, but grip is impaired and the person is likely to develop osteoarthritis. £9,110 to £12,240


If you would like further guidance on manual handling injury compensation payouts, we’d be happy to talk to you. 

What Are Special Damages?

Special damages are a related group of damages that are all related to non-physical, financial and other losses. When claiming for expenses incurred, the claimant must be able to provide documented evidence of such spending. Examples include:

  • Loss of future work/earning potential due to some form of impairment.
  • Loss of earnings (salary/wages) due to taking time away from work.
  • The cost of hiring a nurse or other professional to care for you at home.
  • Out of pocket expenses such as travel tickets.
  • The cost of private medical treatment (if not available for free from the National Health Service).

These are some examples of the types of damages claimants frequently claim for. But there are more. They take into account what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces. if you would like to learn which might apply in your own case, we could help. Please speak to one of our claim advisors.

Manual Handling Claims – No Win No Fee Legal Help

If you’ve been injured in an incident where you were asked to exceed the manual handling weight limit, then you could be owed compensation. If so, then you may find it helpful to work with one of our solicitors. They can offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis.

When operating in this way, you only pay a legally capped percentage of your settlement to your lawyer if your claim succeeds. If your claim fails, you don’t have to pay them. You are also typically not expected to pay an upfront fee or cover ongoing costs.

Find out today if you could work with a solicitor on a No Win No Fee basis for injuries caused by exceeding the maximum weight for manual handling and lifting limits. Get in touch with our advisors by:

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Thank you for reading our guide on what manual handling weight limit applies to workplaces. Hopefully, you know what’s the maximum weight to lift at work and how to make manual handling injury claims.