Manual handling

Information on manual handling injuries and prevention.

Manual handling refers to any activity requiring the use of force by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, hold or restrain something.

Putting boxes on shelves, painting, gardening, cleaning, writing and typing are some examples of manual handling tasks.

Manual handling injuries include:

  • strains and sprains
  • neck and back injuries
  • slips, falls and crush incidents
  • cuts, bruises and broken bones
  • hernia
  • occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).

You should be informed and trained in:

  • safe manual handling methods
  • specific manual handling hazards
  • safe work procedures
  • use of any required manual handling aids
  • your right to ask for help.

Most manual handling injuries can be prevented by designing the task to minimise risk. Instruction, training and supervision are essential to make sure hazards are recognised and safe work methods are used.

Even though you may be young and new to the job, you have a responsibility to speak up. Talk to your supervisor if you feel your job is too heavy, too difficult, too tiring or puts you at risk of injury.

It is the employer's responsibility to provide you with safe work procedures, and with instruction, training and supervision for manual handling tasks.

Ways to reduce the risk:

  • Lighten loads (break loads into smaller quantities).
  • Reduce bending, twisting, reaching movements.
  • Use team lifting.
  • Use mechanical assistance (e.g. trolleys and adjustable height workbenches and seating).
  • Prevent muscle strain and fatigue. This includes warming up before working, taking rest breaks, and allowing time to get used to a new task.

Slippery floors

Slippery and uneven floors in the workplace are hazardous and can result in serious accidents. For example, kitchen workers have been burnt when they have accidentally pulled pots of hot liquid onto themselves when a slip has caused them to fall.

Floors should be cleaned regularly so that oil, fat and other spills do not create a slippery surface.

Employers must make sure that floors are even, slip-resistant and free from any obstruction that could cause an employee to slip, trip or fall.


Students can complete the following Manual Handling activities: