Health and Safety

TILE manual handling – what do TILE and LITE stand for?

Want to carry out manual handling tasks safely? Expert guide to TILE manual handling, what TILE stands for and performing a TILE assessment.

  • Learn about effective manual handling risk assessments to help protect employees.
  • Understand what TILE stands for, as well as TILEO and LITE.
  • Discover the four key stages for TILE manual handling for safe working practices.

Manual handling injuries can happen in any workplace with one in three accidents at work caused by unsafe manual handling.

Manual handling involves lifting, lowering, moving, carrying, pushing or pulling a load. Injuries caused by these activities are generically called Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) which includes back pain and hernias to soft-tissue injuries to wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs. Accidents involving manual handling tasks can also result in crush, cut, fracture and bruising injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 138,000 employees suffered a new case of work-related musculoskeletal disorder in 2018/19, with 40% of disorders back-related and primarily caused by manual handling, repetitive actions or awkward or tiring positions.

While the physical cost to staff is immense – around 20% of all workplace injuries are caused by incorrectly handling, pushing, pulling, lifting or carrying – the cost to employers is significant. The HSE found that 6.9m working days were lost to work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2018/19.

What does TILE stand for - assess the load
It's important to assess the load using TILE before you start any manual handling activity.


From moving boxes in an office or carrying bulky packages as a delivery driver to handling patients in a hospital, manual handling tasks pose a risk to your employee's health.

Knowing how to safely lift, carry and move a load is essential for employee health and safety and wellbeing. TILE manual handling – and its variants TILEO and LITE – are simple-to-follow acronyms that relate to manual handling training, risk assessments, practices and procedures.

Help reduce the risk of workplace injury with our Manual Handling online training course, keeping your employees safe and your organisation compliant with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations.

What does TILE stand for?

TILE stands for Task, Individual, Load and Environment. It covers the four key areas of manual handling, which include the nature of the handling task itself, the capabilities of the individual or team carrying out the task, the characteristics of the load to be handled, and the layout and nature of the environment the task will be carried out in.

What does TILEO stand for?

TILEO also stands for Task, Individual, Load and Environment, but also includes Other Factors, such as assessing the need for and impact of additional equipment needed for the task, such as wearing PPE clothing or using mechanical lifting aids.

What does LITE stand for?

LITE stands for LoadIndividualTask and Environment and is simply a different ordering of the same four key areas of manual handling.

Why is TILE manual handling important?

Employers have a legal obligation to protect people involved in manual handling operations as part of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. By law, employers must:

  • Where possible, avoid the need for manual lifting and handling where there is a risk to health;
  • Conduct regular manual lifting risk assessments;
  • Provide manual handling training and information to staff based on the findings of the risk assessments;
  • Keep records of reportable incidents caused by manual handling.

Understanding TILE and TILE manual handling techniques can help you better assess the risk involved in handling, lifting, pushing, pulling and moving a load, and should form part of structured manual handling training.

TILE manual handling explained

TILE is designed as an easy-to-remember acronym of the key stages of a manual handling assessment. Each letter stands for a specific area concerning the Task, Individual, Load and Environment involved.

T stands for TASK

This stage involves looking at the manual handling task itself and what is involved, such as the lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying and lowering of a load. You should assess how carrying out the task will affect the health and safety of the individual performing it, as well as others who could be affected.

TILE manual handling office loads
Any task that involves moving a load, such as office stationery, needs to be properly assessed.


The key is to identify the type and range of actions and movements involved, such as strenuous or repetitive movements, and consider whether they could result in any injuries. You should also identify alternative ways for the load to be moved that reduce the risk of injury.

When assessing the TASK stage of TILE manual handling, you should consider:

  • The physical movements required, such as any excessive, sudden or repetitive moves. Does the task involve overstretching or overreaching?
  • The distances involved in moving or lifting a load. How long the task should take and the degree of physical effort required.
  • The pace of work required, and the time given for rest and recovery both during and after the task.
  • If, and how, the amount of physical lifting and handling can be reduced or avoided.

I stands for INDIVIDUAL

This stage involves assessing who will be carrying out the task. Different people have different capabilities, training, physical strength and health conditions – and all play a role in assessing the risk to the health of the individual or team carrying out the task. You should assess their existing manual handling skills, previous manual handling training and experience. Consider whether the individual requires additional help and support to complete the task.

When assessing the INDIVIDUAL stage of TILE manual handling, you should consider:

  • The level of physical strength and skills required by the individual.
  • Does the individual have any health-related impairments or disabilities?
  • Does the individual have a history of back pain or muscular injury?
  • What manual handling training, experience and skills does the person have?
  • What information do they need to know to safely complete the task?

L stands for LOAD

Understanding what is being handled or moved is vital for safely completing the task. The load should be properly assessed – including looking at its contents to see if they are dangerous or bulky, and its physical containers such as if they have carrying handles and the indication of weight. Examine how the load is secured, and how the weight is distributed. Assess if the contents are likely to move during handling and what the implications would be.

When assessing the LOAD stage of TILE manual handling, you should consider:

  • Load contents – is it hazardous, such as containing chemicals? Is there a risk of spillage, for example?
  • Weight of the load.
  • The challenges in moving the load, such as sharp edges, unstable or unsecured contents, or its impact on visibility?
  • How the load will be moved – does it offer the ability to grasp, grab, carry or hold it safely?

E stands for Environment

Manual handling a load through a factory, office or warehouse can involve changes in flooring, access ramps and corridors, which means assessing the entire environment is essential to minimise risk. This involves examining how the environment, such as flooring, lighting, ventilation and humidity can affect the task. From potential trip hazards to access to light or shutter switches, it's vital the entire route is planned so you can safely navigate the environment.

What does TILE stand for - environment route planning
Plan your route carefully, noting variations in the route such as steps or uneven flooring.


When assessing the ENVIRONMENT stage of TILE manual handling, you should consider:

  • The state of the ground – is the floor slippery or uneven? How stable is it and are there any slopes or inclines to navigate?
  • How much lighting is there, and what could affect visibility?
  • What variations are there during the route, such as steps or varying heights?
  • How will external factors such as hot weather, fog, humidity or extremes in temperature affect the task?
  • Where and how loads are stored or are accessed?

TILEO explained

TILEO is the same as TILE, with the addition of Other Factors. These are elements that fall outside the four stages for manual handling, but may be relevant to the task you are assessing.

O stands for OTHER FACTORS

Other factors are linked to the industry sector or load itself, such as manoeuvring medical or hazardous waste or dealing with extreme loads such as in construction.

When assessing OTHER FACTORS, you should consider:

  • Is the load in a dangerous environment, requiring equipment such as PPE clothing, masks or other specialised clothing?
  • What impact does this have on the task, such as PPE restricting movement or visibility for the individual?
  • What is the correct equipment that should be used? Is there a need for mechanical lifting aids, such as trolleys or jacks?

LITE explained

LITE is a reordering of the same key stages as TILE and stands for Load, Individual, Task and Environment.

It doesn't matter whether you use TILE or LITE during a manual handling risk assessment, as long as each of the four key stages for manual handling is properly assessed and every step is taken to reduce risk of injury.

Are your employees required to push, pull, lift, lower and carry heavy loads? Our IOSH Approved Manual Handling online training course is specially built by our Chartered Practitioners and experienced health, safety and environmental experts.

TILE infographic

Need a helpful reminder of what TILE stands for and how to safely assess manual handling? Our handy infographic can help – feel free to share it with others, or simply download and print it out.

What does TILE and LITE stand for infographic - Praxis42

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