What Manual Handling Weight Limits Apply To Workplaces? – Maximum Weight Limits Which Should Be Lifted At Work?

By Joanne Jeffries. Last Updated 30th September 2021. 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 here into making manual handling injury claims.

Did you know that a manual handling weight limit applies when you are tasked with moving something heavy at work? If you didn’t, then read on, because, in this guide, we shall answer questions such as: 

  • What is the maximum weight to lift at work? 
  • Can I refuse to lift heavy objects at work?
  • What should I do if I injure myself when lifting at work?
  • Can I make manual handling injury claims?
Manual handling weight limit guide maximum weight to lift at work manual handling injury claims

Manual handling weight limit guide

Our maximum weight to lift at work guide and what it covers

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 forced 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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A Guide To Manual Handling Weight Limits In The Workplace

The sections below combine to give a detailed online guide that relates to the manual handling weight limit at work, showing you the maximum weight to lift at work in a number of ways. The guide also covers workplace accident claims due to manual handling or lifting accidents, showing how a personal injury lawyer could assist you in getting any compensation you are entitled to for injuries you have suffered due to being made to move a heavy object that weighed more than the maximum lifting weights for employees.

What’s included in this guide to the maximum weight to lift at work?

We begin this guide with a general introduction on what manual handling weight limits are and why they are in place before moving on to look at the general guidelines for manual handling at work. As we discuss what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces, we will cover guidelines that relate to both males and females.

Further information is provided that will go over some important safety tips for lifting heavy items and how additional factors can affect the amount of weight that can be lifted. We also explain how lifting a lighter load can also be dangerous and the kinds of steps you should take if you are injured while lifting at work. We tie this part of the guide up with some information about the kinds of training that employees should receive, teaching them to lift safely.

More than just advice on the maximum weight to lift at work – insight on manual handling injury claims

The next part of this guide moves on to look at specific legal and financial aspects of the claims process. Firstly, we have included a table that shows possible compensation ranges for different severities of back or neck injuries. We support this table with a discussion of the kinds of damages that a claimant might receive and why. We explain how we can help you with your claim and how a No Win No Fee claim works.

If this guide does not answer all of the questions you have, then please reach out to our No Win No Fee claims team today. An expert claims advisor will answer all of your questions and also tell you how we can help you move your claim forward. You can contact our claims team on the number at the top or bottom of this guide.

What Are Manual Handling Weight Limits For Workplaces?

What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work? The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has issued guidelines regarding what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces. The safe weight limit changes based on how the object being lifted is held and on the gender of the lifter. 

Generally, the maximum safe lifting weight for men is 25kg. The maximum safe lifting weight for women is 16kg. These apply if the load is held close to their body. For example, only a 5kg weight is considered safe for men if it is to be carried above shoulder height. 

We will look at these limits in more detail in the following section. In relation to this guide, it is important to remember that if you are asked to lift an inappropriate weight, and you are harmed because of this, the party that made you lift the weight could be liable for damages. Speak to our claims team to learn more about this.

Guidelines On Safe Lifting Limits In The Workplace

The HSE has published a complete guide to manual handling and safety, including what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces. One of the core themes of this guide is that before any lifting takes place, the risk needs to be assessed. This assessment must consider the risk to the person performing the lift and also the risk to any other employees involved in the task. These guidelines have to be followed completely at all times. A failure to do so could be deemed a failure in Health & Safety compliance, and sanctions might be made against the company responsible. It could also leave the victim in a position to make a compensation claim. Speak to one of our advisors for more information about this.

Recommended Safe Lifting Limits For Men to avoid manual handling injury claims

If you’re asking yourself, “what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces in different lifting scenarios?” then this section will be of use to you. The recommended lifting limits for men take into account the generally stronger bodies of males and is therefore slightly higher than the weight the females can lift. 

The maximum weight to lift at work for men

When the weight is to be lifted from:

  • Above the shoulder, held close to the body – 10kg.
  • Below the shoulder but above the elbow, held close to the body – 20kg.
  • Below elbow height but above knuckle height held close to the body – 25kg.
  • Below knuckle height but above mid-leg height, held close to the body – 20kg.
  • Below mid-leg height held close to the body – 10kg.
  • Above the shoulder, held away from the body – 5kg.
  • Below the shoulder but above the elbow, away from the body – 10kg.
  • Below elbow height but above knuckle height held away from the body – 15kg.
  • Below knuckle height but above mid-leg height, held away from the body – 10kg.
  • Below mid-leg height held close to the body – 5kg.

These limits must be adhered to at all times, with no exceptions.

Recommended Safe Lifting Limits For Women to avoid manual handling injury claims

What is the maximum weight to lift at work? For a woman, the weight limits are a little lower than those for men. So, what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces for women?

The maximum weight to lift at work for women

These limits are:

When the weight is to be lifted from:

  • Above the shoulder, held close to the body – 7kg.
  • Below the shoulder but above the elbow, held close to the body – 13kg.
  • Below elbow height but above knuckle height held close to the body – 16kg.
  • Below knuckle height but above mid-leg height held close to the body – 13kg.
  • Below mid-leg height held close to the body – 7kg.
  • Above the shoulder, held away from the body – 3kg.
  • Below the shoulder but above the elbow, away from the body – 7kg.
  • Below elbow height but above knuckle height held away from the body – 10kg.
  • Below knuckle height but above mid-leg height held away from the body – 7kg.
  • Below mid-leg height, help close to the body – 3kg.

What Are The Do’s And Don’ts Of Lifting Heavy Items?

When deciding the maximum weight to lift at work, both the employer and the employee should make sure that the weight is within the acceptable weight limit, with no exceptions.

Other considerations include:

  • Do not lift a heavy object if you have not been trained how to do so safely.
  • Make sure the object has suitable handholds or grips.
  • When appropriate, use proper lifting equipment such as a back brace and gloves.
  • If lifting equipment is available, such as a trolley or manual hydraulic lift, use these.

It’s not just about the maximum weight to lift at work that leads to manual handling injury claims

The single most important consideration is to use common sense. If you are asked to lift a weight that you are sure you cannot safely lift, then tell your employer that you have doubts. If your employer insists you move the item and you are injured, you could have grounds to make a compensation claim. Our team can provide more information about this.

What Factors Could Affect How Much Should Be Lifted?

The manual handling weight is not the only factor that could affect safety when carrying out manual handling tasks. Other considerations could be:

  • Lifting that involves bending or twisting the body.
  • Lifting in a confined space.
  • Repeated lifting over a short period of time.

These are just a few additional considerations that could lead to an employee being harmed at work. If liability can be proven against an employer, a claim may be possible. So, it’s good to know what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces, but also the other contributing factors.

Why Lower Weights May Not Be Always Be Safer To Lift

In a previous section, we showed how the weight limit for lifting at shoulder height is less than lifting at elbow height. This is because lifting weights at shoulder height requires much more exertion from the arms and shoulders than lifting at elbow height. Therefore, the risk of injury is much higher.

The maximum weight to lift at work vs the size and position of the weight

Even so, this does not mean that lifting lighter weights is always safe. We have already seen how some things can affect how safe it is to lift any weight at all. If you are forced to lift a weight at work, despite the fact that it could be dangerous, you may have the basis of a compensation claim. Please speak to our team to learn how to proceed with one.

Steps To Take If Asked To Lift Too Heavy An Item Or If Injured

If you’ve been injured because your employer didn’t take notice of what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces, then this section will help you with what steps to take. There are a number of steps you can take to increase the likelihood of personal injury claims being successful, such as:

  • Get first aid treatment at work.
  • Visit the hospital to have your injuries treated.
  • Ensure the incident is recorded in the company accident book and reported to your manager.
  • Take photographs of the cause of the accident if you can.
  • If there were any witnesses to the event, get their contact details.
  • Begin to keep a documented record of any financial losses caused by the accident or injuries. Keep all invoices, bills, and receipts for expenses related to the injury; you may be able to claim these back.

These are all sensible steps to take if you have been injured in a manual handling accident at work. For more free legal advice, call our claims team today.

Training For Safely Lifting And Handling In The Workplace

One of the most important considerations related to how to safely lift at work is to make sure you have received sufficient training about how to lift safely. Your employer is obligated to ensure you receive this training as part of their health and safety duties.

If your employer asks you to lift something and you have not been trained, then if you are injured, a claim could well exist. Speak to our claims team to find out how we can help with this.

Lifting and handling at work statistics

Manual handling and lifting is a leading cause of injury and illness in workplaces in Great Britain. Statistics released by HSE have shown that, in 2019/20, there were 12,344 accidents involving lifting and handling that were reported to RIDDOR. Lifting and handing accounted for 19% of all workplace accidents, and 24% of accidents that resulted in an absence of over 7 days.

The graph below which shows the number of accidents caused by lifting and handling depending on industry type. As we can see, lifting and carrying poses more of a risk in some industries than it does others.  This could be because some industries require minimal or no lifting or handling, and so the potential for injury is much smaller, where for other industries it is an important part of the role. This is in contrast to injuries like slips, trips and falls where the risk is similar across all industries as all workers need to move around their workspace to some extent.

Lifting and handling statistics graph maximum weight to lift at work

Lifting and handling statistics graph

The section for education, human health and social work activities accounted for the highest number of injuries caused by lifting and handling. However, it also accounted for the highest number of accidents overall in a single industry; 20,450 accidents of all kinds occurred across education, human health and social work in 2019/20, which is 31% of all non-fatal accidents reported to RIDDOR in this time. Therefore, these statistics may reflect the fact that this industry is more likely to result in worker injuries overall rather instead of having a higher frequency of accidents relating to lifting and handling alone. But these figures is worth being mindful of when considering what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces.

Calculating Compensation For Manual Handling Injury Claims – Updated September 2021

You might be able to use some kind of online personal injury claims calculator to get a general idea of the value of your claim. You might also like to use the table below to look up your injury and find out the range of compensation that could be available to you. We based this table on the Judicial College Guidelines that are used to value manual handling injury claims.

InjurySeverityInformationCompensation
NeckMinorStrains and sprains that resolve within 3 months.Up to £7,410
NeckModerateUnder this bracket of injuries would be any kind of injury that would heal within a year. There would be no long-term or permanent impairment once healing is complete. This could include minor vertebrae fractures, soft tissue injuries and crush damage for example.£7,410 to £36,120
NeckSevereUnder this bracket of injuries would be all injuries that will result in the patient suffering from some form of permanent or long-term disability or impairment. Ongoing symptoms could range from chronic pain that cannot be prevented using a surgical collar, to pins and needles or numbness in the extremities.In the region of £139,210
BackMinorUnder this bracket of injuries would be simple injuries to the back such as lacerations, puncture wounds, burns, etc. at the lower end of the scale, ramping up in severity to minor fractures and soft tissue injuries. All injuries in the bracket would heal fully within a short time.Up to £11,730
BackModerateUnder this bracket of injuries would be any kind of back injury that would heal completely within a year. There would be no long-term or permanent impairment once healing is complete. This could include minor back vertebrae fractures, soft tissue injuries and crush damage for example.£11,730 to £36,390
BackSevere (i)Under this bracket of injuries would be all injuries that will result in the patient suffering from some form of permanent or long-term disability or impairment. Traumatic treatment may be needed, such as spinal fusion. Ongoing symptoms could range from chronic pain that cannot be prevented using a surgical collar, to pins and needles or numbness in the extremities.£85,470 to £151,070
BackSevere (II)Under this bracket of injuries would be as above, but with far more serious ongoing symptoms. Including chronic pain, affected sex life, loss of life quality, etc.£69,600 to £82,980
BackSevere (iii)Under this bracket of injuries would be very severe injuries such as lesions of the discs or vertebrae, as well as compound vertebrae fractures, etc. Treatment will require invasive and traumatic treatment, likely surgery, and the victim will be left significant impaired for the rest of their lives, possibly losing mobility due to paralysis of the lower body.£36,390 to £65,440
CRPS(i) SeverePoor prognosis and work ability will be reduced greatly if not eliminated£49,270 to £78,840

Your injury may not have been listed in this example table, or you may feel there are extenuating circumstances that mean your claim won’t fit into these categories. In such cases, we recommend that you speak to a member of our manual handling injury claims team, and we can arrange for a solicitor to value your claim for you.

Additional Compensation Which You Could Claim For Lifting Injuries

When a personal injury solicitor is successful in securing you a compensation settlement, it could be made up of a number of different kinds of damages. 

General damages for manual handling injury claims

General damages are paid to the claimant to make up for the physical and psychological hardship inflicted by the injury. The worse the hardship the claimant went through or faces in the future, the higher the damages. Examples include:

  • Permanent disability, if your injuries will never heal fully and will leave you impaired in some way.
  • Traumatic treatment, such as invasive surgery.
  • Psychological injuries such as depression or anxiety caused by the accident or your injuries.
  • General pain and suffering at the time of the accident.
  • Stress and mental anguish caused by being subjected to a traumatic event.

Special damages for manual handling injury claims

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, and 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, please speak to one of our claim advisors.

No Win No Fee Claims For Lifting Accidents And Injuries

When you make a No Win No Fee claim, you won’t need to pay your solicitor anything until the claim has been a success. So no new claims fee, no fee at all while it is processed, and zero solicitor fees if the claim fails.

If the claim is a success, then the solicitor will ask you to pay a small, legally capped success fee. This can be taken directly from the compensation payment they have received for you.

If you have any queries about No Win No Fee agreements, please get in touch.

How Accident Claims UK Could Help With Lifting Injury Claims

We can help you with the entire end-to-end claims process. From evaluating your claim and providing you with needed information, such as the personal injury claims time limit that will apply. all the way through arranging a solicitor to process your claim for you to the final resolution of your claim. After checking what manual handling weight limits apply to workplaces, all you need to do to get started is call the number below.

Begin A Lifting Injury Claim

Are you ready to start your claim for a manual handling accident at work? Or do you just need some additional help and advice before starting a claim? Whatever help you need, all you have to do is contact our team on 0800 073 8801, and they will assist you.

Where To Learn More

Useful external links:

The Law-Related To Manual Handling

Information About Back Injuries

HSE Manual Handling Resources

Other useful guides:

Manual Handling Claims

Claiming For An Accident At Work

How To Claim For A Back Injury

What Manual Handling Weight Limits Apply To Workplaces And the Maximum Weight To Lift At Work FAQs – Find out more about manual handling injury claims

What is the legal requirement for manual handling training?

It is mandatory for employers to ensure that all employees have proper training and competency for manual handling.

Can I refuse to lift heavy items at work?

You can inform your employers if you feel the item could cause you harm or if you feel unsafe.

What are the four key areas of manual handling?

These are the nature of the job, how capable the individual lifting the object is, what the load actually is, and the nature of the environment.

How often do I need to do manual handling training on the maximum weight to lift at work?

On average, the recommendation is to undergo/repeat manual handling training every 12 months.

Is a lifting restriction a disability?

No, because being unable to lift items above a certain weight doesn’t really restrict their ability to perform a role at work.

Which is the correct way to access the load?

You should keep the heaviest side of the load close to your body while avoiding any twisting or leaning when lifting.

Can I deliver manual handling training to avoid manual handling injury claims?

Assuming that you have the competency and qualifications necessary, you could deliver in-house manual handling training at work.

How long does a manual handling course take?

It generally takes around 2-3 hours to complete a manual handling course.

My employer asked me to lift over the maximum weight to lift at work, should I refuse?

You should be able to refuse to lift a load if you believe it is over the maximum weight to lift at work, but also if you believe it presents other risk to your health and safety. Your employer should ensure each lifting task is risk assessed and should avoid making you lift wherever reasonable. If you are forced into lifting a load that is over the maximum weight to lift at work, and you suffer an injury because of this, you could have a claim for compensation against your employer.

I was injured lifting over the maximum weight to lift at work – can my employer fire me for making manual handling injury claims?

Some people worry that employers would take a dim view of them making a claim for an accident at work that involves manual handling. It’s important that you are aware of your rights in this respect. Firstly, you would be making your claim against your employer’s insurance in most cases, so it would not be like taking money out of the company, although your employer’s insurance costs may go up as a result. Secondly, you have protection in law when you expose wrongdoing at your place of employment. Your employer isn’t legally allowed to treat you differently because of your claim. In addition, many employers are completely understanding and supportive of the fact that you’re making a claim for compensation. Finally, making your claim could avoid the same fate befalling another employee.

Could I make manual handling injury claims if I was injured due to someone else’s negligent manual handling?

If you suffered an injury because someone else was not trained in manual handling by an employer, you could make a claim for compensation. According to the HSE’s fatal accident statistics, 17 people were killed in 2020/21 due to being hit by a moving object. You can see below the other reasons for fatalities in the workplace.

manual handling injury statistics graph

Could I be sacked for making manual handling injury claims against my employer?

According to the law, those who speak up about workplace wrongdoing have protection from being treated differently because of what they report. If you report an accident at work due to wrongdoing on the part of your employer, they would not be able to take action against you by firing you. If you are worried about making a claim against your employer for fear of being fired, we’d be happy to talk to you in detail about the protection you could have. We could also support you as you make manual handling injury claims against them.

If, for example, someone was working above you and dropped something due to mishandling because they did not receive training, and you were hit on the head with the object, your injury could be against your employer for failing to protect you. Training people to handle safety could not only protect them from harm, but it could protect others too. If you could prove your employer was responsible for your manual handling injury at work, you could make a claim against them.

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