Wellness & Lifestyles


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Wellness & Lifestyles Australia

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Table of Contents
Page No.
IMPORTANT NOTICE..................................................................................1
INTRODUCTION: MANUAL HANDLING GUIDELINES...............................................3
METHODS OF MANUAL HANDLING..................................................................6
FUNDAMENTAL MOVEMENTS AND POSITIONS.....................................................8
MANUAL HANDLING OF MATERIALS...............................................................11
CONTACT US.........................................................................................13

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The information provided in this document can only assist you in the most general way. This document does not
replace any statutory requirements under relevant State and Territory legislation.
Wellness & Lifestyles Australia (W&L) accepts no liability arising from the use of or reliance on the material
contained in this document, which is provided on the basis that the Office of W&L is not thereby engaged in
rendering professional advice. Before relying on the material, users should carefully make their own
assessment as to its accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any
appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.
To the extent that the material in this document includes views or recommendations of third parties, such
views or recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of W&L or indicate its
commitment to a particular course of action.
© Copyright Australia 2013
This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only
(retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organization. Apart from any
use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved.
The Office of Wellness & Lifestyles Australia acknowledges the assistance of all the persons and organizations
who contributed to this document, in particular:

Wellness & Lifestyles Australia – Manual Handling Procedure Manual
Department of Human Services – Implementation Strategies, 1998
Workplace Services: Employment Relations Information Centre http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/
Work Cover http://www.workcover.com/
Manual Handling Guide for Nurses (2006) – Workcover NSW Health & Community Services Industry
Reference Group

 Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth)
 Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 (Cth)
 Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice 2011
 How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2011
 Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination

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Wellness & Lifestyles Australia (W&L) is a market leader in the provision of mobile allied health services in
Australia. Its core business is aged-focussed health services. This document has been put together by its team
of physiotherapists and occupational therapists that specialise in aged care.
The National OHS Strategy 2002-2012, records a commitment by all Australian, State and Territory
Governments, the Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to
share the responsibility of ensuring that Australia’s performance in work-related health and safety is
continuously improved.
The National OHS Strategy sets out five national priorities to achieve short-term and long-term improvements.
The priorities are to:
 Reduce high incidence and high severity risks;
 Improve the capacity of business operators and workers to manage OHS effectively;
 Prevent occupational disease more effectively;
 Eliminate hazards at the design stage, and
 Strengthen the capacity of Government to influence OHS outcomes.
Performing manual tasks can be hazardous, potentially leading to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD).
Manual tasks at work resulted in 437,852 compensation claims in Australia in a 6-year period. This is equal to
41.6 percent of all compensation claims for that period, with a direct cost, not counting indirect impacts (such
as the long-term impacts on the quality of life of the injured worker) of $11.965 billion.
This manual provides practical guidance on how to prevent MSD when dealing with elderly clients or when
working in aged care facilities.
All W&L policies and codes of practice are guidance and advisory documents only and their implementation is
dependent on legislation enacted by State/Territory OHS authorities.
Compliance with the recommendations in this Code of Practice will not necessarily mean that a person has
fulfilled their obligations under occupational health and safety acts and regulations relevant to them. Persons
should contact their State or Territory or Australian Government health and safety authority for information on
their obligations.

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Wellness & Lifestyles Australia promotes a work environment where the health and wellbeing of all staff and
clients is not compromised by lifting or manually handling. Manual tasks at work encompasses a wide range of
physical activities, and are defined as anything that requires the use of force for lifting, lowering, pushing,
pulling, carrying, holding or restraining any person, animal or item. This also includes tasks with repetitive
actions, sustained postures and concurrent exposure to vibration.
All staff members are required to use the mechanical aids and personal protective equipment provided, and to
use manual handling techniques as taught, to reduce or minimise the risk of any injury.
Duty holders (this includes persons with control of a workplace, employers, workers, and also designers,
manufacturers, and suppliers) have a responsibility to identify and eliminate the risk of a musculoskeletal
disorder occurring as a result of performing manual tasks at work. A duty holder has an obligation to protect all
people who could be exposed to risk – workers, trainees, apprentices, contractors, and work experience
Duty holders are thus required to ensure that appropriate mechanical aids are available and used, and to notify
the key responsibility holder of any further requirements. Until such time as the required equipment becomes
available the duty holders must determine other strategies to deal with and minimise the risks of injury that
may arise as a consequence.
A risk assessment must be undertaken to determine if a manual handling hazard exists. All identified manual
handling risks and interventions must be documented, monitored and reviewed.
In some circumstances it may be contrary to the situation to use mechanical lifting devices. All identified
manual handling risks and interventions must be documented, monitored and reviewed.
In some circumstances it may be contrary to the situation to use mechanical lifting devices. In these
circumstances the manual handling may only occur if it does not involve lifting a significant weight, singularly,
or repetitively, that places the worker as unacceptable risk. The staffing levels must be sufficient enough to
ensure the safe use of equipment and that the manual handling needs of the client are met.
Employees should not lift in any circumstance other than exceptional or life threatening situations. It is each
individual’s responsibility to ensure their own health, safety and welfare and to take reasonable care to avoid
adversely affecting the health, safety and welfare of any other person.
Nick Heywood-Smith
Wellness & Lifestyles Australia
April 2013

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Hazard identification
Hazard identification is achieved by identifying the manual handling tasks likely to be a risk to the employee’s
health and safety in order that they can be examined and assessed as required by the manual handling
regulations. The purpose of hazard identification is to identify and place in priority order the jobs or tasks
which require risk assessment. The risk must then be acted upon as decided by management.
There are three basic steps to hazard identification:

Analysis of workplace injury records
All incident records will be reviewed to identify the areas where the manual handling injuries have occurred
and will take into consideration:
 Area of workplace concerned
 Occupation or task of the injured person
 Part of the body injured
 Nature of the injury
 Type of incident

Consultation with employees
All employees will be consulted to assist with the identification of manual handling risks that can be found in
the workplace.

Direct observation
Regular inspection of the workplace will be conducted by the appropriate persons to assist with the
identification of risk. A checklist may be used to assist with hazard identification.

Risk assessment
When a hazardous activity has been identified the employer will ensure that a manual handling assessment is
conducted in an attempt to remove or modify the risk and reduce the risk of injury.
When an assessment is conducted the following factors will be evaluated:
 Actions and movements involved in the manual handling
 Workplace or work station layout
 Postures and positions that must be used by the employee when involved in manual handling
 Duration and frequency of the manual handling
 Location of the load and the distance of movement required
 Weight and forces involved in the manual handling
 Characteristics of the load and equipment that is used in the task
 Work routines
 Work environment
 Skill and experience of the employee
 Personal characteristics of each person who must carry out the manual handling task
 Clothing worn by the employee
 Any other relevant factors

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Risk control
When a manual handling task is assessed as being a risk to employees’ health and safety, such precautions as
are considered reasonably practicable must be used.
Risk control will be established by:
 Eliminating the task to totally remove the hazard
 Where appropriate the employer will redesign the task to ensure that the risk factors are eliminated or
 Ensure that all employees are trained appropriately in manual handling techniques
 Ensure that adequate supervision is given to all employees
 If redesign is not appropriate the employer will:
o Provide mechanical aids
o Provide personal protective equipment
o Arrange team movers

The three stage approach to safe manual handling





Analysis of workplace injury records
Consultation with employees
Direct observation

Actions and movements
Workplace and workstation layout
Working posture and position
Duration and frequency of manual handling
Location of loads and equipment
Weights and forces
Characteristics of loads and equipment
Work organization
Work environment
Skills and experience
Personal characteristics
Other relevant factors

The ways of controlling risks are ranked from the highest level of control
and reliability to the lowest – known as the hierarchy of control. The
WHS requires duty holders to work through this to choose the control(s)
that most effectively eliminate or minimise the risk.

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Before starting any handling procedure (lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, shovelling, sweeping,
mopping), first assess the work situation or size up the load.
In a familiar handling situation, where all the characteristics of the load, surroundings and handlers are known,
this step will be carried out automatically, but in unfamiliar situations, or where the loads are variable, a
deliberate appraisal should be carried out.
Safe manual handling is based upon a set of fundamental positions, movements, and principles which can
then be applied to a variety of situations.

General principles
The general principles for most manual handling procedures are:
 Position the body correctly before commencing the lift maintaining good body alignment (natural
spinal curves) for ALL tasks regardless of how trivial
they appear
 Use the leg (thigh muscles) to raise or lower the load,
to set the load moving, and to provide momentum for
horizontal movement when pushing or pulling
 Use body weight together with the above to counter
any loss of balance, and to assist with the moving of
 Keep the load close to the body as possible
 When learning over anything, support upper body
weight bracketing on a surface
 Turn by pivoting/ moving your feet and not twisting the trunk
 When moving people prompt them to assist as much as possible

Key Factors
The following key factors set the patterns for the recommended posture and movements in the handling of

Placement of feet

The feet should be placed comfortably apart, one foot forward and the other foot back, before
commencing handling procedures, this helps maintain balance
When lifting, the feet should be placed either around the load or as close to the load as possible.
Where neither position can be reached, the load should be moved to a suitable position, clear of
obstruction before lifting or manual or mechanical assistance should be sought
When lowering a load it should, if possible, be lowered between the feet
When forward movement is anticipated, the front foot should be placed beside the load and pointing in
the direction of movement.
When moving backwards (e.g. when moving loads from a shelf or bench), one foot should be placed
backwards to receive the combined weight of load and body. Most of the weight should be on this foot
before any movement is made
When the feet are correctly positioned the centre of gravity is within the span of the feet, this position
results in stability sideways, backwards and forwards. All handling movements should be carried out
smoothly and rhythmically. Having the legs apart during lifting does not increase risk of hernia.

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Bent knees – straight back

The knees should be bent before the hands are lowered to lift or set down loads. When a load
is taken from a shelf or received from another person, conveyor or chute, the knees should be
sent so that the force of the load can be absorbed.
When a load is lifted from the ground, the knees should preferably not be bent beyond a right
angle. If the knee is bent acutely, the mechanical efficiency of the leg muscle is lessened.
Bending of knees is greatest when the load is being taken up from the floor. When the load is
on the floor, loads should be limited, with certain loads, group lifting may be necessary.
In a typical lifting posture with the knees and hips bent, the lumbar spinal curve is flattened,
resulting in the ‘straight back’ but not necessarily in a vertical back
When only one hand can be used in lifting, overloading the back muscles can be reduced by
placing the other hand on the knee or against a firm support. Lifting and carrying of heavy
loads with one hand should be avoided.

Arms close to the body – correct grip

The arms if possible should hang between the thighs when lifting or lowering loads. The load should be
carried close to the body with elbows by the sides. Wide loads may be handled obliquely, or vertically,
provided that the load does not obscure the vision of the handler. If the load obscures vision, an
assistant is required to help carry the load, or mechanical handling should be employed.
Loads should not be held out from the body when they are being raised, lowered or supported
In manual handling the arms should act as links not sources of power. Muscles of the legs and buttocks
not arm muscles are used to move the load.
In lifting, the hand on the same side of the body as the forward foot, should grasp the side of the load
furthest from the body. The other should grasp the opposite side of the load.
When carrying, the hand supporting the far side of the load should clasp the load to the body. In some
cases, it may be necessary to have both hands underneath to support the load.
In all handling procedures a grasp should be used to keep control of the load. The load should be
grasped with the whole length of the fingers and part of the palm of the hand, not just the fingertips
In continuous carrying of light loads by only one hand, the hand being used should be alternated.

Head erect

Raising the head at the commencement of lifting automatically assists in keeping a ‘straight back’
during the lift. The ‘straight back’ is necessary to ensure that uniform pressure is applied to discs
between the spinal bones
Turning the head may cause the spinal column to rotate and should be avoided during handling
procedures when a change in direction of movement is required, or if it is necessary to look around,
the body should be turned by pivoting on the feet

Use of body mass

Body mass used as a source of momentum acts with the muscles to set loads in motion and to propel
moving loads. When setting loads in motion, jerky actions should be avoided by applying force slowly to
the load through shoulders, arms and hands
Body mass is also used as a counter balance in handling procedures

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Semi-squat lift/bench position
The semi-squat lift is the preferred technique for the manual handling of materials because it:
 Minimises strain on spinal discs and other body areas
 Is adaptable for a variety of activities and situations
Other techniques can put enormous strain on the lower spine or knees and may not be adaptable
Preparation for the semi-squat technique involves:
 Bringing the chin in
 Pulling the shoulder blades together
 Lifting the breast bone by adjusting vision to a point in front
 Dynamic abdominal bracing (pulling umbilicus towards spine helps to maintain the natural lumbar curve
and reduce strain)
 Poking the bottom out
 Bending the knees
 Having the feet shoulder width apart

well using this technique involves:
Keeping the load close to the body
Bending the knees
Using a firm grip
Placing the body over the load
Bracing the spine using dynamic abdominal bracing
Keeping the load as close to the body as possible
Lifting and lowering using the legs
If straining occurs and the load is not comfortable, use a 2 person lift, i.e. assess the load before the

USE: lifting and lowering

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 Feet flat,, pointing forward
 Weight through rear leg
 Maintain natural spinal curves
 Brace arms against body
 Smoothly transfer body weight forward
USE: pushing and pulling (e.g. - trolley)

Sideways lunge

Feet slightly wider than shoulder width
Weight through one side
Maintain natural spinal curves
Brace if possible
Transfer weight to the other leg

USE: sliding
If you haven’t moved the object far enough, ensure you do not follow- through by using arms / twisting trunk…
reposition feet, and perform again!

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Knight’s position

Place one knee on floor
Maintain natural spinal curves
Keep toes-up position
Rest on soft surface if available

USE: working at low levels


Ensure area behind is free of obstacles
Firm grip
In bench/ semi-squat position
Move COG/ bodyweight backwards
Maintain natural spinal curves

USE: pre-tension/ initiate movement
Anticipate need for step response!


Feet shoulder width apart
Load close to body
Brace if possible
Pivot on ball of foot
Maintain natural spinal curves
Avoids trunk rotation under load

USE: turning in confined areas

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Manual handling of materials includes the movement or storage of anything that is handled on the job.
Materials handling can be very hazardous and every year can cause many disabling injuries. These injuries can
be prevented if you:
 Stay alert
 Be safety conscious
 Handle the materials appropriately

Shovelling, Sweeping, mopping

The selection of the correct shovel, mop or broom for a specific purpose is fundamental
Where material is being handled by a shovel in a confined space, or where granular material is being
placed in a hopper, a short shovel may be preferred
Where materials are being transferred to other than a specific area, the long handled shovel may be
found to be ideal
In any case it is essential that the length of the handle of the shovel, mop or broom is adequate for its
purpose. As a general rule, the longer the lever, the less the force required to move.

Pallet handling

Always use a pallet jack or forklift when available
Place the front foot by the side of the pallet, rear foot close behind the pallet. Bend knees but not
beyond a right angle
Grasp pallet in corner using gloves on hands. Lift pallet up and forward onto front edge by
straightening knees and advancing rear foot.

Team lifting

Assess and discuss the lift with a partner
Use clear commands when performing any manoeuvre
Wear glove when handling rough loads
Using clear commands, with both hands under the load, lift on signal by straightening legs
Use clear commands during the procedure and for setting down the load

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Principles for all procedures

Keep back firm and straight
Brace low abdominal muscles
Knees bent and feet apart
Maintain good balance
Firm forehand grasp
Lift by using the power in the thigh and bottom muscles
Lift the load as close to the body as possible
Allow the patient to assist as much as possible to minimise the lift
needed. If they can do it, you assist less and therefore lessen risk of
The height of the staff must be considered for all procedures. If there
is a large difference, the taller carer must get into a wide lunge
position to be level with the other carer for 2 person assist techniques

Evaluation of all manual handling procedures
At the completion of each transfer or lift, staff shall evaluate the technique
used and identify and document changes as necessary.

the performance of the technique and identify:
Any problems encountered
Causes of any problems
Possible solutions
Determine the most appropriate alternative technique for the patient
Report any changes that may be required on the Manual Handling Assessment by communicating with
the Physiotherapist via referral or using the physiotherapy diary

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Wellness & Lifestyles Australia
41 Sydenham Road, Norwood SA 5067
P: +61 8 8363 1344
F: +61 8 8331 3002
E: contact@wellnesslifestyles.com.au
W: www.wellnesslifestyles.com.au / www.wleducation.com.au / www.wlconsultancy.com.au
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