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28th January, 2019

TILE Manual Handling Considerations

Those involved with manual handling sure do love an acronym, we have LITE, TILE, even TILEO. But what is TILE?

Well, actually, all the above mean the same thing.

Using TILE? Task, Individual, Load, Environment.

Or, if you’re going down the LITE route… Load, Individual, Task, Environment.

Feeling fancy? Throw an O on the end and call it Other (or Other factors)!

Why the different terms? Well, they each aim to be a quick reminder of the things you should be thinking about before lifting or carrying. Whichever term you use, you need to remember the same four key factors.

  • Task
  • Individual
  • Load
  • Environment

So, what does it all mean?

So we know TILE is used for a quick way to remember the things you need to be assessing when it comes to manual handling. These cover the risks associated with manual handling activities.


The first factor in TILE is the task. Why do we need to consider the task? Tasks can have an impact on the need to twist or stoop or cause excessive lifting, lowering or carrying.

Does the task require:

  • Twisting of the trunk?
  • Stooping or poor posture?
  • Reaching upwards?
  • Holding or manoeuvring loads away from the trunk of the body?
  • Excessive carrying of loads?
  • Excessive lifting or lowering?
  • Excessive pushing or pulling?
  • A process forcing a rate of work?
  • Prolonged physical effort?
  • Insufficient rest and recovery?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, then the risk of manual handling injury is increased because of the task.

You need to think about the task and any improvements that can be made. If the task can be adapted to improve posture, reduce physical effort and allow for rest periods this can help to reduce the risk with the activity.


The second factor to consider is the individual. This is the person who will be doing the manual handling. Their strength and capabilities can have an impact, but so can knowledge of the load and task, along with training and experience.

  • Does the manual handling require a certain level of strength?
  • Does the activity require a person of a certain height?
  • Does the individual have a health problem?
  • Is the individual pregnant?
  • Have they been trained in safe manual handling and lifting technique?
  • Do they know how to handle the load properly?
  • Does this activity require any special information or training?

Each manual handling activity is different. While a person may be perfectly capable of lifting and carrying in normal circumstances, you should consider if there is anything unusual. This could be a change in circumstances for the individual, e.g. a health problem. It could also be a requirement of the activity, e.g. height and strength requirements.


The third consideration in TILE is the load. The load itself can have a big impact on the risk level of the manual handling activity. How heavy the load is should, of course, be a consideration, but there are other characteristics of the load that should be assessed.

  • Is the load heavy?
  • Is the load unstable?
  • Is the load hazardous?
  • Does it have sharp edges?
  • Is there a risk of spillage of the load?
  • Is it bulky or difficult to grasp?
  • Is the load very hot or cold?
  • Will the load reduce visibility?

Answering yes to any of these questions might mean extra measures need to be taken to make the load safe.

If the load can be split or altered to make it easier to handle, then this can also be a good way to reduce risk. Otherwise, for bulky or heavy loads, you could consider mechanical aids or a team lift. PPE such as protective gloves might be needed for hot, cold, or sharp loads.


The final factor to consider in TILE is the environment. Where the manual handling will take place can also have an impact on the safety of manual handling operations. For example, is the flooring slippery or uneven creating slip or trip hazards? Are space restrictions preventing good posture?

  • Is the ground stable?
  • Is the floor slippery?
  • Is the ground uneven?
  • Are there variations in floor level?
  • Are there extremes of temperature?
  • Is the environment humid?
  • Is there enough ventilation?
  • Are there strong winds?
  • Is the lighting poor?

Planning your route when carrying loads is an important part of reducing the risk when manual handling. You might not be able to see clearly when you are carrying a load. You might not be able to switch lights on or open doors.

Where manual handling is taking place outside additional considerations such as wind, rain, ice and temperature can also affect safety and should be planned for.

Manual handling takes place all the time, but don't get complacent. According to HSE statistics, handling lifting and carrying account for 21% of non-fatal injuries. Manual handling is also the biggest cause of musculoskeletal disorders, which nearly half a million workers are suffering from in the UK in 2017/18.

Every manual handling operation is different. Remember to carry out a manual handling risk assessment before you start. List any TILE considerations that apply to your activity as hazards, and think about how the risks can be reduced.

Sometimes, you might be able to reduce or avoid manual handling altogether, by using equipment, mechanical aids or by changing processes and layouts.

Make sure your team know the risks. Download the free manual handling toolbox talk as a reminder of the TILE considerations.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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