Manual Handling Course - 2016

Course Introduction

Manual Handling Course (Online)

The risk management process for manual handling tasks involves a three steps process. This training is accordingly divided in following sections to cover these steps. 


Completing this online training alone will not result in competency achievement.

You are also required to complete the theory paperwork and practical with physio.

Contact your training adviser if you have got any queries. 

Course Objectives

Course objectives:

The objective of this course is to raise awareness of:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders and their impact
  • Manual handling and personal risk factors
  • Principles of safe manual handling
  • Reducing the risk of manual handling injuries


You can now proceed to section 1 from home screen.

1. Identification of Manual Handling Tasks

What is Manual Handling

Manual handling can be defined as a task that requires a person to:

  • Lift
  • Lower
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Carry
  • Hold
  • Twist or position
  • Manoeuvre loads and objects
  • Restrain something using repetitive movement


Identification of hazardous manual task

Identify 5 key manual handling tasks from your work routines.

Hazardous Manual Tasks (1/2)

What is a hazardous manual task?

A hazardous manual task means a task that requires a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any person, animal or thing involving one or more of the following:

High forces/heavy work:

High forces exerted by the back, arm or leg muscles to move a load e.g. opening / closing stiff valves

Repetitive movements:

Force is applied or similar movements occur frequently over a period of time e.g. weighing samples in the lab, or lifting a load repetitively etc.

Awkward postures:

Uncomfortable and unnatural positions (bending, twisting, asymmetrical, or cramped positions) e.g. cleaning idlers in Ferts etc.


Hazardous Manual Tasks (2/2)

Sustained postures:

Part of or all of the body is kept in the same position for prolonged periods. E.g. sitting whilst operating loader, administration work


Whole body- vibration transmitted through whole body via seat or floor.

Hand arm- vibration transferred through tool or controls

Holding on to difficult or unstable load:

Loads that are unstable or unbalanced can move or change shape suddenly, or are uneven and heavier on one side.

Loads that are difficult to hold include loads that are very large, slippery, floppy, sharp, hot, cold, toxic or unpleasant


Slips/trips and falls & pinch point injuries- very common mechanism of injury. E.g. catching finger between 2 cylinders, tripping over rough ground around back of AN


You have now completed section 1.

In this section, we discussed about key hazardous manual tasks. Section 2 will build further on this and help you assess risks associated with these tasks.

You can access section 2 from the home screen.

2. Assessment of Risks

Musculoskeletal Disorders

What are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)?

Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.).


Common impacts of MSDs include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Joint and bone injuries or degeneration
  • Nerve injuries or compression (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Muscular and vascular disorders (e.g. hand arm vibration syndrome)
  • Chronic pain


Important reminder: “Listen to your body and report symptoms early”

How do MSDs get developed?

MSD’s occur in two ways:


1. Sudden damage

Caused by strenuous activity, or unexpected movements that go beyond body's capabilities and limitations.

For example, when loads being handled move or change position or increase suddenly.

2. Gradual wear and tear

When workers is exposed to risk factors such as repetitive loads, vibration and awkward postures, they begin to fatigue. Body however tries to cope up with these conditions to the best of its ability. However, when fatigue outruns their body’s recovery system, a musculoskeletal imbalance gets developed. Over time, as fatigue continues to outrun recovery and the musculoskeletal imbalance persists, a musculoskeletal disorder develops.

This can occur to joints, ligaments, muscles and discs caused by repeated or continuous use of the same body parts, including static body positions.

What are the two ways in which MSDs occur?

  • Sudden Damage
    Caused by strenuous activity, unexpected movements or sudden increases in load
  • Gradual wear and tear
    Occur due to repeated on continuous use of certain body parts, including static body positions

Personal Risk Factors

There are a number of personal factors which can impact the likelihood of an MSD. 

Lack of required physical capability

(Important factors: Body size, weight, general fitness level, age, health condition)

Lack of required skills and competence

(Important factors: Appropriate training, education and experience)

Pre-existing conditions

(Important factors: Any pre-existing injury or weakness in joints)


(Important factors: Level of physical and mental fatigue levels, alertness)

Climatic variables

(Important factors: Temperature, noise, luminosity, height etc.)


(Smoking is associated with increased risk of back pain)


In this section, we have discussed what MSDs are and how they occur. We have also reviewed the personal risk factors that can impact the likelihood of MSDs to develop.

You can now move on to the section for risk control from home screen.

3. Risk Control

Managing the Risks

Risk control means implementing effective measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of MSD. It is the third step in our process for managing hazardous manual tasks.

Once the controls are implemented, it is important to ensure their effectiveness and bring improvements.

Some important control strategies include:

  • Use mechanical aids- brainstorm the best way to prevent injuries by using mechanical aids in your workplace
  • Avoid rushing into a task (major cause of manual handling injuries and decreased productivity)
  • Change the work design (e.g. sub-dividing the load where applicable, storing objects at certain heights, placing the items at appropriate locations etc.)
  • Report injuries as soon as possible to prevent further damage

Steps in the risk management process

Step 1:  the manual tasks that are hazardous.

Step 2:  the risk of injury associated with hazardous manual tasks.

Step 3:  the risk by implementing appropriate measures.

Step 4: Ensure the  of control measures.

Hierarchy of Control

When implementing the controls to manage the manual handling tasks, the hierarchy of control has to be kept in consideration. A more permanent solution is always preferred over a short-term fix.

Match the controls with the relevant level in the hierarchy of controls

  • Eliminate
    Remove task or process e.g. using forklift jig for moving 190kg cylinders rather than trolley
  • Substitute
    Replace process or task with less hazardous one e.g. Lighter weight tooling / components
  • Engineering
    Modification to work process e.g. raising bench height to reduce bending
  • Admin
    Procedures / training e.g. job rotation, hazardous manual task training, work instructions
  • PPE
    Equipment to protect employees. Used as a last resort e.g. gloves

Lever Principle

When lifting your back works on a lever principle, the load you are lifting and your back are balanced on a pivot point or center of gravity.

Your back has a 10:1 lifting ratio- E.g. if you lift a 12kg object, the pressure placed on your lower back when lifting will be 120kg. However, this ratio increases the further the object is away from you i.e. if you are lifting an object farther from your body, it would exert much higher forces on your back as compared to when it is lifted closer to the body.

It is, therefore, extremely important to maintain the correct posture while conducting manual handling tasks, keeping the back straight and holding the load closer to the body.

Identify the correct posture (drag and drop the answer in correct box at the bottom of pictures below)

  • This posture can be more damaging to the back.
  • This posture is a safer way of lifting.

Tissue Creep


  • The longer we stay in a bent, crouched or seated position the more we can creep into the position
  • This causes shortening of the soft tissue structures around our spine, making us more vulnerable to strain


To counteract tissue creep:

  • Organise better working heights to eliminate bending
  • Take regular short breaks from the bent position
  • Take a short break before doing any heavy manual handling
  • Another option may be to perform exercises or activities that increase the muscle activation of the trunk muscles to make up for the accumulated effects of creep.

What habits are important to counteract tissue creep?

  • Organise better working heights, take regular breaks from bent position, take a break before any heavy manual handling.
  • Organise better working heights, tough it out, remain in bent position.
  • Take regular breaks from bent position, remain in bent position, tough it out.
  • Remain bent over to avoid the pain of straightening up.

Solution to Manual Handling Risks

If you have a solution to a manual handling task that you think may reduce the manual handling risk involved or if you are concerned about safely undertaking a manual handling task, please contact the site Physiotherapist ( who can assess the task and assist with any recommendations.

Fitness for work

If you have experienced an injury outside of work that may affect your ability to perform your role safely please inform your Supervisor and contact the medical centre (9411 877) for review.


Key points:

Manual tasks cause a considerable number of injuries every year and accordingly need due consideration.

We need your help in:

  • Identifying the hazardous manual tasks
  • Finding the best solutions
  • Make the changes by implementing the most appropriate controls

You can also help yourself by:

  • Listening to your body
  • Assessing the risks  before conducting the tasks
  • Reporting symptoms early
  • Keeping fit and healthy

End of course

This brings us to end of section 4. In this section, we have reviewed important control measures which can be implemented to prevent manual handling work injuries at CSBP.

We expect you to proactively engage in identifying, reporting, assessing and controlling the hazardous manual tasks and be committed to being a safe person, use a safe process and make a safe workplace.



If you have completed all the four sections included in this training, you are now required to send an email to the training adviser to indicate completion.

Next step will be organizing a session with physio which your training adviser will book for you.