How to lift training does not reduce risk

WorkSafe does not support 'how to lift' training as a suitable risk control for hazardous manual handling.



It takes more than a 'how to lift' training session or poster to make sure your team is safe from the biggest cause of injury in Victorian workplaces, hazardous manual handling.

Manual handling can be a necessary part of getting the job done at many workplaces. Where manual handling involves moving people, repetitive actions, unstable loads and other factors the work can become hazardous.

Hazardous manual handling is the biggest cause of injury at Victorian workplaces. It causes a range of serious injuries known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Providing 'how to lift' training, like basic instructions to bend your knees and keep your back straight is not effective in reducing injury risks. This type of training does not control the source of risk. Employers must try other risk control measures to meet their duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).

WorkSafe is a member of the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities Musculoskeletal Disorders national working group. A main focus for this group is the prevention of work-related MSDs eg sprains, strains, chronic pain and hernias, caused by hazardous manual handling.

The group has developed a Position Paper to help employers, unions, industry representatives, health and safety professionals and training providers understand the need to go beyond basic 'how to lift' training to keep Victorians safe at work.

Adult worker in a childcare setting assisting a child climbing on some equipment.

Position on 'how to lift' training

Did you know telling workers to 'bend your knees' and 'keep your back straight' when lifting is not effective in reducing manual handling injuries? A new 'how to lift' factsheet has been developed to provide information about the ineffectiveness of 'how to lift' training.

Download the PDF

Effective methods for managing hazardous manual handling tasks

Providing 'how to lift' training is not a legal requirement and it is ineffective for reducing the risk of MSDs.

To reduce risk, WorkSafe suggests following risk management processes in consultation with your workers.

Information about what to include in hazardous manual handling training can be found in the Hazardous manual handling training fact sheet.

Information on how to manage the risks associated with hazardous manual handling, including legislative requirements, can be found in the Hazardous manual handling compliance code.

Support for your business

APHIRM – A Participative Hazard Identification and Risk Management toolkit

APHIRM is a free toolkit for employers to use to revise and manage MSDs in the workplace. The toolkit helps identify physical and psychosocial hazards and develop a prioritised management plan for addressing the risk of MSDs. The toolkit is free for work health and safety professionals.

LaTrobe University run highly interactive workshops where participants can develop an action plan for implementing APHIRM and work through each stage of the of the risk management process.

OHS Essentials program

The OHS Essentials program provides free, confidential, independent and personalised advice to keep Victorian workers in small and medium businesses (60 workers or fewer) safe.

You’ll be paired with an independent industry expert who will work with you over three sessions to understand your business, help you with a practical plan to improve your workers' safety and the safety of your business.

Related information