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What Is The Maximum Weight Limit I Can Lift At Work? – Accident At Work Claims Advice Guide

By Max Mitrovic. Last Updated 2nd August 2022. When new clients contact us about personal injury claims following a manual handling injury at work, one of the first questions asked is usually, “What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?” The answer is that there is no legal maximum weight limit, which may surprise you. Instead, there are guidelines and recommendations regarding the maximum weight to lift at work.

What is the maximum weight limit i can lift at work guide

What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work guide

In this guide, we’re going to review the recommended safe lifting limits and explain when you might be able to seek compensation for injuries related to lifting too many items or lifting something that was too heavy. We’ll look at your employer’s duty of care towards your safety, what considerations should be made when lifting, and how much compensation could be paid if your injury is caused by employer negligence.

Legal Expert provides a no-obligation assessment of any workplace accident claim. Our advisors also provide free legal advice about your options. If they believe that your personal injury claim has a chance of success, they could introduce you to one of our specialist No Win No Fee solicitors.

If you’d like to discuss making a manual handling claim right away, please call 0800 073 8804 today or use our live chat feature. Otherwise, to find out more about claiming for lifting-related injuries, please continue reading our manual handling claims guide.

What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?

If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own in a manual handling accident, you may be wondering whether it’s because you carried more weight than you should have. Furthermore, you could be wanting to know more about the heavy lifting at work law that could help highlight what the maximum limit is.

In short, there is technically no maximum weight limit that you can lift at work according to UK law. However, there are guidelines created by the government which aim to establish what the recommended safe maximum weight limit for lifting at work is for men and women.

For men, the guidelines suggest that the maximum weight limit for lifting should be 25kg, compared to 16kg for women. However, lifting within these limits does not guarantee safety, as there are many factors that could result in injury.

We’ll take a closer look at these guidelines, commonly referred to as The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, later in this guide. So, to learn more, please continue reading.

Select A Section

A Guide On What The Maximum Weight Limit You Could Lift At Work Is

manual handling

manual handling

The answer to the question “what is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?”, as we’ve already mentioned, is that there is no legal manual handling weight limits for UK workplaces. However, there are guidelines and recommendations which are provided for the benefit of employers and their staff. If you’re injured in a manual handling accident because these guidelines weren’t adhered to, it might be possible to claim compensation for your injuries.

In this manual handling claims guide, we’ll review the guidelines related to lifting. We’ll also explain why loads lighter than the maximum weight for manual handling might end up being safe. We’ll also consider the factors which affect how much you can carry or lift.

Starting A Manual Handling Claim

If you are considering making a compensation claim for a workplace injury, you’ll need to demonstrate 3 things:

  1. That you were owed a duty of care (all employers have a duty to ensure staff safety).
  2. That your employer breached their duty of care, exposing you and your colleagues to the risk of harm.
  3. And as a result of the breach, you suffered an injury.

One important factor to consider is the personal injury claims time limit. In most cases, you’ll have 3-years from the date of your accident to make your claim. While that might seem like a long period of time, we’d advise you to start as soon as possible. In our experience, if you leave it too late, you might forget key points or not be able to gather the required evidence.

Proving what went wrong and who was to blame can be tricky, especially with manual handling claims. That’s why we advise having one of our specialist personal injury solicitors on your side. Our team has years of experience handling complex cases. They’ll guide you through the claims process, help you gather the supporting evidence and represent you throughout the claim, so you don’t need to deal with your employer or their insurance company. Please call and speak to us for further advice.

What is the Maximum Lift Weight at Work?

You may be wondering, “what is the maximum weight a person should lift?”. It’s important to note that there isn’t a specific law on the manual handling weight limit. However, The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 provides recommendations to prevent manual handling injuries. These regulations should be adopted by workplaces to minimise the risk of any injuries being caused.

What Is The Maximum Weight Limit I Can Lift At Work?

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. –

Furthermore, the Health and Safety Executive’s guide for manual handling at work provides insight into what the maximum lift weight at work should be. This provides recommendations for weight lifting in the workplace for both men and women, which you can see in the graphic above.

It shows that, at elbow height, the maximum a man should carry is 20kg while, for a woman, it is 13kg. Additionally, at shoulder height, a man shouldn’t carry more than 10kg while a woman should only carry 7kg.

If your employer is insisting that you carry heavier objects than is recommended, leading to you suffering an injury, you may be able to claim due to negligence. You may also be able to claim if you slip while moving an object due to unsafe work conditions.

What is the Two-Person Lift Weight Limit in the UK?

Now that we’ve answered questions like, “what is the maximum weight a person should lift?”, this section will clarify the recommended limits regarding a 2-person lift.

If two people are lifting an object, the recommendation is that they shouldn’t exceed 2/3rds of the total amount of both of their lifting limits.

Let’s provide a few examples for a clearer idea of how this works:

  • If a man and a woman are lifting an object together at elbow height, the maximum weight for the 2-person lift should not exceed 22kg.
  • Two women lifting an object at knuckle height should not exceed 21kg.
  • Two men lifting an object at shoulder height should not lift an object that exceeds 13kg.

If your employer is asking that you lift objects that are heavier than what the above regulations state and you injure yourself as a result, you could claim due to negligence. To learn more about how to claim or to see if you can claim yourself, call us for free legal advice using the details above.

A Summary Of Heavy Lifting At Work Law

We feel that providing a summary of the heavy lifting at work law is important to help determine if you’re able to claim. An important aspect of the law is that the weight limit depends on what part of the body you’re lifting from. For instance, if the load is being lifted to shoulder height but close to the body, the maximum weight limit for men drops to 10kg. If it’s at the same height but being carried away from the body, it drops again to 5kg.

As you can see, manual lifting is not just about the weight of the load. There are many other factors to consider when thinking about making a manual handling claim, which we’ll look at over the coming sections of this guide.

Lifting Accidents at Work Statistics

The law surrounding the maximum weight to lift at work is important because of the potential injuries that can be caused by manual handling. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 18% of reported non-fatal injuries at work in Great Britain were caused by handling, lifting or carrying during 2020/21. 

Furthermore, exceeding the recommended maximum weight limit can cause musculoskeletal disorders. As you can see below, there were 470,000 reported new or long-standing work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2020/21. 162,000 of these were newly reported within that year.

What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?

What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?

General Considerations For Lifting And Handling Heavy Items At Work

Even though 25kg is shown in the HSE information from the previous section, that size load would soon wear you out or injure you if it were carrying out manual handling tasks regularly. 

In most cases, employers should consider a number of factors when deciding what a suitable weight to be carried is. They include:

  • The size and shape of the load. Regardless of the weight of the load, if it’s bulky, oversized or an odd shape that’s difficult to grip, it could cause problems when being lifted.
  • The working environment. Again, the weight of the load may not be the issue. If the load has to be carried through narrow or winding pathways, the carrier could be injured while trying to negotiate obstacles.
  • The carrier. While the HSE does provide some examples of lifting limits, not every man and woman has the same level of strength or mobility. Therefore, employers should review whether an employee is physically able to perform the task without risking injury.
  • The task. It’s important to consider how many units have to be carried and over what period. Even loads that are lighter can cause damage to the body if the task is prolonged and repetitive.

Listed above are just some of the reasons why it isn’t always suitable for you to carry an object even if it’s within the maximum weight to lift at work. Your employer should risk-assess tasks provided to you – assessing the environment, the demands of the task and your own physical condition.

If you believe you’ve been injured in a manual handling accident because your employer failed to risk-assess the task at hand properly, please speak with an advisor for free claims advice in the wake of a manual handling accident.

Why Lifting Weights Below The Maximum Limit May Not Always Be Safe

As mentioned in the previous section, the weight of the load is not the only factor to consider when asking, “what is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?”. If you look at one load of, say, 10kg, it might be deemed safe for that single load to be lifted once. But what if there were 10 or 100 loads of 10kg that needed moving, and what if they had to be carried through narrow gaps or over long distances?

Even though 10kg is below the recommended weight limit for manual handling shown in the HSE advice for manual handling, in some scenarios, other options should be considered.

Guidelines On Safely Lifting In The Workplace

Any manual handling risk assessment should try and design handling operations so that they are as safe as possible. Even if training has been provided, it will not always ensure safe handling is carried out. By planning the way in which loads are moved ahead of time, the risk of handling injuries can be reduced.

Therefore, the main guidelines for lifting safely in the workplace are:

  • Assess the task at hand before any lifting is performed.
  • See if the amount of lifting can be reduced by rearranging the work area.
  • Look at mechanical lifting aids where tasks are prolonged or loads are difficult to handle.
  • Consider the individual who will be carrying out the lifting.

If you believe that you were given a task that wasn’t safe and caused you to suffer an injury, please speak with an advisor for a free assessment of your claim.

Factors Affecting How Much You Could Lift Or Carry

We’ve touched on this subject in previous sections of this guide. However, there are many factors that should be considered when planning a lifting task in the workplace, such as:

  • Is the load going to be lifted in small or confined spaces?
  • Does the process involve any bending, jerking or twisting movements?
  • Will the operation require a lot of repeated lifting?
  • Will the lifting be carried out at chest height, mid to lower leg height or elbow height?

Essentially, all of these factors should be looked at prior to starting the lifting. In cases where the work is likely to cause injury, your employer should look at alternative (and safer) methods of manual handling.

Examples Of Manual Handling Accidents

Manual handling accidents could occur in a variety of ways. In this section, we’ve given a short list of examples below. However, there are other scenarios in which heavy lifting at work could cause you to be injured due to negligence.

  • Inadequate training – You may have been asked to lift a heavy load, but not told how to do so in a safe manner. There are certain tips and techniques for manual handling that can reduce the risk of injury. If you are not made aware of them, then you could be hurt.
  • Unsafe walking surfaces – Even if you are carrying something safely, the floor may be slippery or damaged. This could cause you to fall and become injured.
  • Exceeding the maximum safe weight – If you carry weight heavier than is deemed safe, then this could also lead to you sustaining an injury. The damage could occur due to an isolated incident, or it could be cumulative. If you are unsure as to what the maximum weight to lift at work may be, you can consult this HSE guide. Also bear in mind that you can refuse to lift something if you feel you are incapable of safely doing so.

Reach out today if you have any questions regarding whether the scenario that caused your injury could be an example of negligence.

I Was Injured When Lifting And Handling A Heavy Object, What Should I Do?

manual handling

manual handling

If you have been injured in a manual handling accident at work, you’ll need to supply evidence to support your claim. The more evidence you can supply, the easier it will be to show what happened. Therefore, in the event of an accident, we’d suggest that you:

  • Report the accident to your employer. By law, the incident will need to be recorded, and you can ask for a copy of the accident report to help prove what happened and when.
  • Photograph the scene of the accident. For manual lifting injuries, it would be worth trying to capture the size of the area you were working in and the load you were lifting. Try to do this as soon as possible before anything is removed from the scene.
  • Seek medical treatment for your injuries. Not only will this help you recover, but medical records could also be used to show the extent of your injuries.
  • Ask any witnesses for their details.
  • Ask for copies of any CCTV footage that was covering the area. You should do this as soon as possible as it’s not always retained for long periods.
  • If you have any visible injuries, photograph them throughout your recovery.

Once you’ve got as much evidence as you’re able to, please call and speak with an advisor. They’ll go through your claim with you and advise you of your options. If the claim is strong enough, they could introduce you to a specialist solicitor to take your manual handling claim forward.

Lifting Related Injury Compensation Claims Calculator

Now that we’ve reviewed the question, “What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?” it’s time to look at compensation. When making a personal injury claim, your solicitor can claim for general and special damages. We’ll look at general damages in this section, which is the compensation designed to cover pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by your injuries.

Rather than provide a personal injury claims calculator, we’ve provided some sample compensation amounts in the table below. It contains data from a document called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). Courts and personal injury solicitors use the JCG to help determine settlement amounts.

As each and every manual handling claim is unique, we’d advise you to use these figures as guidance. Once you’ve spoken with a member of our team and your claim has been assessed properly, we should be able to give you a more accurate compensation estimate.

Paraplegia(b) Factors such as the impact on mental health and level of independence will affect the settlement as well as other issues.£219,070 to £284,260
Backa. Severe - (i) This bracket involves cases of the most severe injury associated with spinal cord and nerve root damage.£91,090 to £160,980
Backa. Severe - (ii) Cases in this bracket will have special features, such as damage to the nerve roots with sexual difficulties, comprised mobility, and loss of sensation.£74,160 to £88,430
Backb. Moderate - (ii) These injuries can be frequently encountered, such as soft tissue and ligament damage.£12,510 to £27,760
Back(c) Minor - (ii) When no surgery is required and a full recovery is made in 1-2 years.£4,350 to £7,890
Post-traumatic stress disorder(b) Moderately severe - There will be a better prognosis than in more severe cases due to professional help.£23,150 to £59,860
Shouldera. Severe – Neck injuries with brachial plexus damage that don’t result in a significant disability.£19,200 to £48,030
Shoulderb. Serious - When the shoulder is dislocated and the lower part of the brachial plexus is damaged£12,770 to £19,200
Knee(b) Moderate - (i) This bracket includes injuries that involve dislocation or a torn cartilage as well as other issues.£14,840 to £26,190
Mental anguish(E) When you fear you may die or you have a reduced life expectancy.£4,670

As you can see, compensation for a manual handling accident at work is awarded based on the severity of your injury. That makes it imperative that your solicitor provides ample evidence to show the true extent of your suffering.

As part of the claims process, our solicitors will arrange for you to be assessed by a local medical specialist. During the appointment, you’ll be asked a number of questions, and your injuries will be examined. Then a report will be prepared that provides details of your injuries, their impact and if you’re likely to be affected in the long term.

It’s important to understand whether there is likely to be any ongoing suffering. That’s because if it isn’t factored into the settlement amount, the compensation you receive might not be enough to support you back to full recovery.

If you’ve suffered an injury due to exceeding the maximum weight to lift at work as a result of employer negligence, the extent of your injury will be one of the factors that dictate the compensation you could receive.

Special Damages For Lifting Related Injury Claims

In the previous section, we mentioned special damages. That’s the compensation awarded to cover any financial costs associated with your injuries. There are many different elements to a special damages claim, including:

Travelling Costs

It’s likely that you’ll need to travel to a hospital, GP or pharmacist on multiple occasions during your recovery. That means fuel, parking, and other travel-related costs could build up, so you could include them in your claim. Also, if you’re unable to drive while recovering, you could claim any alternative travel arrangements.

Medical Bills

In most cases, any medical bills will be covered by the NHS. However, you might need to cover the cost of prescriptions, over the counter medications and other treatments not covered by the NHS. That means these costs could be claimed for.

Damaged Property Costs

If you damage an item of personal property, such as your phone, spectacles or clothing, during your accident, you could ask for the cost of replacing or repairing the item.

Care Costs

While recovering, you might need the support of a carer. If that’s the case, you can claim back any associated costs. That might mean a professional carer’s fees, or you could calculate an hourly rate for a friend who’s cared for you.

Loss of Earnings

When your employer doesn’t pay you in full pay for being off sick (or if you’re self-employed), you might suffer a loss of earnings when taking time off work to recover. When that happens, you could ask for any lost earnings to be included in your claim.

Future Lost Income

Finally, if you suffer an injury that limits your ability to work longer-term, you could ask for future lost earnings to be considered. The amount paid is determined by what work you are able to do, your age, current salary and job prospects.

Having looked at the questions “what is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?” and “how much compensation could I receive for a manual handling accident?”, our next section will go into greater detail on the No Win No Fee claims process. Our specialist solicitors are experts in the heavy lifting at work law meaning they can help you take steps to strengthen your claim and get the compensation you deserve.

No Win No Fee Lifting Related Injury Claims

Legal Expert’s advisors can advise you on claiming compensation for a manual handling accident. If you’re eligible to start such a claim, our advisors may connect you with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors. Under a No Win No Fee agreement, you can concentrate on pursuing compensation without worrying about the costs involved in funding the services of a solicitor.

If your claim has been assessed, and one of our solicitors is happy to support it, they’ll prepare a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). The main benefits of a CFA are:

  • You won’t need to make an upfront payment for your claim to begin.
  • There are no fees to pay during the course of your claim.
  • If the solicitor fails to win your case, you don’t have to pay any fees at all.
  • If the solicitor does win your case, you don’t need to send payment to them as they’ll retain a small percentage of your compensation. This is known as a success fee, which is legally capped.

If you’d like to find out if you’re eligible to claim using our No Win No Fee service, why not call and speak with us today?

Why Choose Us For Lifting Related Claims

manual handling accident solicitors

manual handling accident solicitors

Legal Expert specialises in all forms of personal injury and accident at work claims, including those involving manual handling. Our team of specialist solicitors have decades of experience handling cases that are often complex. Here are some reasons why you should consider letting us help you:

  • We have a 24-7 claims line.
  • Our friendly staff provide free legal advice regarding your claim.
  • If your claim is taken on, your solicitor will strive to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation.
  • All claims are handled on a No Win No Fee basis.
  • Your solicitor will be available throughout your claim to answer any questions that arise. They’ll explain any legal jargon for you and provide regular updates as your claim progresses.

Please get in touch if there’s anything else you’d like to know about how Legal Expert could help you, or to discuss the question “what is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?” at greater length.

Start Your Claim

Now that you’ve read our guide about manual handling accidents at work, we hope you’d like to begin a claim with Legal Expert. If that’s the case, we can be contacted in any of the following ways:

  • By telephone: Call 0800 073 8804 today to speak to a specialist claims advisor.
  • By email: Send details of your claim to
  • Online: Use our live chat feature to connect with an advisor day or night.
  • Call Back: Ask for a call at a time that suits you by completing our online claims form.

In the first instance, our advisors will offer you a no-obligation assessment of your claim and then provide free advice on your options. If they believe the claim has a chance of success, they could refer you to one of our specialist personal injury lawyers. Remember, any claim they handle will be on a No Win No Fee basis.

Our team can answer any questions you have about the maximum weight limit. Furthermore, our specialised solicitors are experts in the heavy lifting at work law meaning that they’ll be able to assess whether your claim will be successful in a quick and efficient manner. This means we won’t waste your time. Contact us today using the above details.

Essential References

Thanks for reading this guide that aimed to answer the question, “what is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?” To provide you with further information, we’ve linked to a few more of our guides as well as some useful external resources too. Please feel free to get in touch if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

Other Legal Expert guides you may find useful:

What is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work? FAQs

Is my employer responsible for lifting injuries sustained while at work?

Your employer has a responsibility to ensure your health and safety is protected while in the workplace. They should carry out this duty of care as far as is reasonably practicable. This includes providing proper training at work and equipment. If you’re injured in a manual handling accident because your employer has been negligent, you may be able to claim compensation.

What are the risks associated with lifting heavy loads?

When lifting heavy loads, there’s a risk of causing injury to the arm, shoulder, neck and back. There’s also the risk that you could develop a musculoskeletal disorder through repeated lifting.

Can I claim for a musculoskeletal disorder brought on by lifting?

Yes. If your musculoskeletal disorder was the result of your employer not taking the proper steps to ensure your safety at work then you may be able to claim.

What can affect the weight that I can lift at work?

As well as the weight of the load, you should also consider things like the environment you’re lifting in, where the load will be held on your body and carrying distance. For a summary of heavy lifting at work law, please contact our solicitors who will be able to tell you quickly and easily if you’re eligible to claim.

How can I practice good manual handling techniques?

When you’re lifting, you should plan the activity before undertaking it. Keep the heaviest side of the load closest to your body, and keep the load close to your waist. A stable position and good hold on the load will reduce the risk of injury.

How long do I have to claim for lifting injuries?

The personal injury claims limit for injuries is 3 years. This is either from the date the accident occured or, in the case of musculoskeletal disorders, when it became apparent that your symptoms were related to your workplace accident.

What steps other than lifting techniques can I take to reduce the risk while lifting?

When undertaking a lifting activity, you should check the environment to see if it’s suitable for you to perform the lift. Things like slippery floors can increase the risk of injury as a result of slip trip or fall accidents. If you can use a piece of equipment to move the load, you should do so.

How much could I claim for a lifting injury?

This depends on how severe your injuries were, how long they’ve affected you and if there are any special damages that can be included in your claim.

How much weight can one person lift in the workplace?

The weight one person can lift will depend on how the load is being handled. For instance, if you’re lifting a load at shoulder height with extended elbows, the most you could lift as a male worker is 5kg. For women, the maximum you could lift in this situation is 3kg.

Can I refuse to lift heavy items at work?

If you feel lifting the heavy items at work is going to put your safety at risk, you could discuss this with your employer. You could ask them to carry out a risk assessment to ensure that the job they’re asking you to do is safe. If they find any hazards that could put you at risk, they should take reasonable action to remove or reduce the risk.

What is considered heavy lifting for work?

Manual handling at work is considered the action of lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, moving or carrying a load. Your employer is required to avoid the need for employees to undertake any manual handling tasks where possible. However, if they can’t. they should carry out risk assessments to ensure employees aren’t at risk of being injured while manual handling.

Can I claim compensation if I get injured going above the maximum weight to lift at work?

There can be variety of factors that can affect the recommended maximum weight to lift at work. The height at which an item is carried can influence the advised weight limit.

When lifting at work, there are certain guidelines and techniques that should be implemented whenever possible. Doing so can reduce the risk of injury in some circumstances. Being trained in these procedures is the responsibility of your employer, as part of their legal duty of care.

So, if you are asked to move something by an employer, they must take into account certain considerations such as:

  • The weight and size of the item
  • Whether you have been properly trained
  • Your physical ability

If these factors are not properly assessed, then the employee could become injured. This could be negligence, which is when your employer has not upheld their duty of care. Therefore, it could be possible to make a claim.

If you would like to speak to an advisor who can answer questions such as “what is the maximum weight limit I can lift at work?” or similar, you can get in touch with Legal Expert using the contact details highlighted in this guide.

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