Manual Handling

DEECD recognises that manual handling injuries account for a significant proportion of all injuries that occur within the Department and that in most cases they are preventable. Manual handling is not simply the act of lifting items. 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 object. Manual handling tasks in DEECD can vary greatly and could include lifting or restraining a student, carrying boxes of copy paper or files, transporting audio visual equipment around a school, pushing a whiteboard into a meeting room or even using a keyboard.

The risk of injury associated with manual handling increases with tasks that involve:

  • the application of high force;
  • repeating an action frequently;
  • bending and twisting;
  • repetitive and heavy lifting;
  • handling loads that are unstable or difficult to grasp;
  • working in an awkward or uncomfortable condition;
  • working for long periods without adequate rest;
  • working in adverse environmental conditions; and
  • handling live people or animals.

All hazardous manual handling tasks must be identified and controlled. Identification of hazardous manual handling tasks can occur in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • observation;
  • reviewing incident, injury and hazard reports from employees; and
  • consulting with employees involved in performing these tasks.

There is no legislated weight limit that is considered “safe” for manual handling. Individuals have different physical capabilities which must be considered when taking into account any manual handling task. The weight of an object is not necessarily the only thing that makes a task hazardous.

When/where would these issues be relevant?

Hazardous manual handling tasks may be carried out in many DEECD locations including office environments, general classrooms; cleaners store rooms; canteens; gymnasiums and libraries. Some examples of hazardous tasks may include:

  • carrying a large numbers of books (heavy and unstable);
  • moving furniture and equipment e.g. televisions;
  • lifting and moving gym equipment;
  • storing large containers (e.g. bulk chemicals);
  • emptying wheelie bins;
  • typing whilst at an inadequately set up workstation (Ergonomics);
  • storing and retrieving archive boxes, in particular above shoulder height; and
  • hanging art work and posters.

The physical environment can also increase the risk of injury. As an example, when tasks are performed in poor visibility, on slippery or uneven surfaces or in temperature extremes (hot or cold).

What do I need to do?

  • Consult with your Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees in relation to manual handling hazards;
  • Identify all the manual handling tasks and assess which are hazardous;
  • Develop and implement controls to reduce these manual handling risks;
  • Develop safe work procedures to instruct employees how to safely perform the task; and
  • Provide training to employees in relation to safe manual handling and lifting techniques.


Legislation, guidance and codes of practice

Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007

WorkSafe Victoria – Manual Handling Guidance

Practical guidance

Manual Handling Procedure  (PDF - 190Kb)

Hazardous Manual Handling Identification Form (Word - 410Kb)

Hazardous Manual Handling Risk Management Form (Word - 420Kb)

OHS Advisory Service 1300 074 715

DEECD Regional OHS/WorkSafe Advisors