OHS Management System: Risk Management
Pages in this section:

> Introduction to Risk Management
> Aggression and Violence
> Amenities
> Contractor Management
> Electrical Safety
> Emergency Procedures
> First Aid
> Hazardous Substances
> Manual Handling
> Office Ergonomics

> Pets
> Plant and Equipment Maintenance
> Purchasing and Hiring of Equipment
> Safe Work Procedures
> Slips
> Smoking Clients
> Warm Water Systems
> Working Alone
> Working at Night

Manual Handling

> What is manual handling?
> Risk management of manual handling
> Risk controls 
> Templates & References

What is manual handling?

Manual handling is a significant hazard in aged and community care services.  Manual handling is any activity requiring the use of force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any animate or inanimate object.

Risk management of manual handling

Employers need to develop a comprehensive manual handling strategy with a risk management focus.  Manual handling tasks need to be identified, assessed and controlled.  Areas to be addressed when assessing manual handling include:

  • Actions and movements (including repetitive actions and movements);
  • Workplace and workstation layout;
  • Working posture and position;
  • Duration and frequency of manual handling;
  • Location of loads and distances moved;
  • Weights and forces;
  • Characteristics of loads and equipment;
  • Work organisation;
  • Work environment;
  • Skills and experience;
  • Age;
  • Clothing;
  • Special needs (temporary or permanent);
  • Any other factor considered relevant by the employer, employees or OHS representative/s.

Risk controls

The risk control measures for manual handling are many and varied and often will involve redesigning of the task or the environment.  Mechanical aids can assist but are unlikely to be the total solution. Staff need to be consulted regarding potential solutions and to ensure their cooperation in the process.

Of particular challenge to aged care employers, is to ensure the safe transfer of residents in the facility.  Most aged care employers are working towards a "no lift policy” by providing transfer aids such as hoists, slide sheets, hover mats and walking belts. 

Often manual handling tasks will require a safe work procedure to identify the correct way to approach a problem and to provide specific guidance to the worker.  Staff will need training in the safe work procedure and assessment for competency in performing the task.

Manual handling needs should be considered in the purchasing decisions of the organisation.  The choice of products can significantly affect the manual handling risk.

Templates & References

Occupational Health & Safety Regulation 2001, Chapter 4 Part 4.4

National Standard for Manual Tasks 2007 (PDF 232 Kb)

National Code of Practice for Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders from Performing Manual Tasks at Work 2007 (PDF 1.8 Mb)

Risk Assessment Form (PDF 552 Kb)

Risk Assessment Form (short version) (PDF 84 Kb)

Smart Move Toolkit Occupational Health and Safety Council, Ontario, Canada. Reproduced by WorkCover NSW.

Manual Handling for Nurses (PDF) WorkCover NSW. Program aligned with the competency standards prescribed in the Manual Handling Competencies for Nurses, WorkCover NSW/NSW Nurses Association 1998.

Manual Handling Risk Guide (PDF). WorkCover NSW.

Manual Handling Training Resource. WorkCover NSW. DVD. Contact WorkCover Assistance Service 13 10 50

Manual Handling in Aged Care - Program for Carers & Program for Ancillary Staff.  These packages provide advice on establishing a manual handling strategy for your organisation and session outlines covering the core skills and competencies required by your staff.  Contact ACAA Tel: (02) 9212 6922 or ACS Tel: (02) 9799 0900 for further details.

Taking the Manual Out of Handling.  This is a one day training session conducted by the Independent Living Centre NSW.  Tel: (02) 9890 0995.  Participants work with the different types of lifting and transfer aids available.  Reference is made to the principles of lifting, risk management and "No Lift" policy.

Manual Handling Training Programs for Home Based Care.  The Home Care Service of NSW has developed two competency based manual handling training programs.  Contact Sharon Lee Tel: (02) 9895 8996.  These programs have been designed specifically for the home based care industry.  Both programs are aligned to the Community Services Training Package (CSH99) at a Certificate III level qualification.
- Training Program 1: Practical Manual Handling for Home Based Care
- Training Program 2: Risk Management and Manual Handling for Home Based Care

The Back Stops Here package has been developed by Baptist Community Services for community care and residential aged care organisations. Contact Joshua Key, Injury Management Advisor, Tel: (02) 9204 7163

Transferring People Safely:  A practical guide to managing risk.  WorkSafe Victoria. This is an excellent resource for handling patients, residents and clients in health, aged care, rehabilitation and disability services.  www.workcover.vic.gov.au Tel: (02) 9641 1333

Designing Workplaces for Safer Handling of Patients/Residents: Guidelines for the design of health and aged care organisations from WorkSafe Victoria.  Design of facilities can make a significant difference to the way that patients/residents are transferred.  This guideline provides ergonomic advice regarding spatial requirements for bedrooms, ensuites, bathrooms, lounge/dining rooms, corridors and equipment storage.  This should be essential reading before designing or renovating aged care organisations.  www.workcover.vic.gov.au Tel: (02) 9641 1333

A Manual of Handling People 2nd Edition – Implementing a No-Lift Approach by Kate Tuohy-Main.  This is a comprehensive training system of manuals, handbooks and videos which focus on transfer techniques and back health. Tuohy-Main Systems, Tel: (02) 4952 4076


Disclaimer: This website is presented by ACS and ACAA-NSW for the purpose of disseminating occupational health, safety and injury management information free of charge for the benefit of our industry and the public. This website is not a substitute for independent professional advice. ACS and ACAA-NSW do not accept any liability to any person in respect of any action taken or not taken in reliance on the information provided by this website.
Please notify all errors to: admin@agedcareohs.info

Doc: ohs03j v2.0  Last updated 1 Apr 2010