Complete Guide to Manual Handling in Aged Care

Manual handling is an essential part of almost any workplace that you can think of. It might be a term you’ve never heard of before now, but it’s almost a guarantee that in some way or another you perform manual handling tasks regularly as part of your daily life. This goes double for people working in aged care.

Whether you work in an aged care facility, or you just look after a loved one, manual handling tasks and getting them right is an important part of your responsibilities. For professionals, manual handling training should have been completed already as part of their aged care training, but for everyone else, here’s our complete guide to manual handling in aged care.

What is Manual Handling?

Manual handling refers to the process of lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing, pulling, holding, or moving a load, object, or person using bodily force. It is an important part of occupational health and safety. Due to the physical nature of this activity, it poses a risk of injury to anyone who performs it correctly. While manual handling activities are common in almost every workplace that you can imagine, in those where it is most commonly found it is essential for staff to receive mandatory training in safe practices.

Who Needs Manual Handling?

incorrect manual handling techniques

Whether you’re a desk-bound professional or you work in a physically active industry such as construction, manual handling is a vital part of most people’s everyday lives. However, some people use manual handling more than others, and this greater risk of injury means they’re required to complete manual handling training and earn a certification in order to continue working in their role. Following is a list of some specific jobs which most require workers to complete manual handling training:


  • Nurses
  • Caregivers
  • Paramedics
  • Aged care workers
  • Disability workers


  • Construction workers
  • Carpenters
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Roofers
  • Landscapers


  • Factory workers
  • Assembly line workers
  • Equipment operators
  • Warehouse workers

Manual Handling & Aged Care

The safe manual handling of people (MHP) is of utmost importance in the aged care sector in Australia. It involves the specialised use of safe lifting and transferring techniques when assisting elderly individuals with mobility restrictions.

Manual handling in aged care includes tasks such as assisting with transfers between beds, repositioning patients in bed, walking or mobility assistance, toileting, and personal care tasks, as well as lifting and transporting objects or equipment as needed. Manual handling training is essential for caregivers to minimise the risk of injuries and ensure the well-being of both themselves and their patients.

Procedures for Manual Handling in Aged Care

aged care manual handling

Manual handling procedures in aged care typically include guidelines on lifting, transferring, and repositioning techniques, as well as the use of assistive devices to minimise the risk of injuries. Five specific examples of manual handling procedures in aged care include:

  1. Assisting with transfers between bed and chair
  2. Repositioning individuals in bed
  3. Using proper lifting and transferring techniques
  4. Adjusting or moving medical equipment such as beds, trolleys, or wheelchairs
  5. Using assistive devices and equipment to support manual handling tasks

Manual Handling Hazards in Aged Care

Manual handling hazards in aged care encompass physical risks and challenges associated with the manual lifting, supporting, or moving of patients. Some common hazards specific to aged care include:

  1. Moving patients without proper equipment or assistance.
  2. Adopting awkward postures, such as bending, twisting, or reaching during transfers or repositioning.
  3. Insufficient training or knowledge leading to poor manual handling techniques.
  4. Inadequate staffing levels leading to rushed or improper handling practices.
  5. Potential violence from patients experiencing confusion or stress.

Identifying and addressing these hazards is crucial to maintaining a safe working environment for both caregivers and patients in aged care facilities. Adhering to proper manual handling techniques and using appropriate equipment are both essential for preventing injuries and ensuring the well-being of both caregivers and the elderly individuals under their care.

Ultimately, the greatest manual handling hazard in aged care is also the easiest to address. Unsafe manual handling techniques and poor manual handling practices can both be resolved through training and certification. Working in aged care requires all staff to be fully qualified, which includes earning a manual handling certification. This training should also be retaken once every twelve months to ensure that the skills and knowledge remain second nature for all aged care workers, eliminating incorrect manual handling techniques which can otherwise cause injury to both you and the patient.

Equipment for Manual Handling in Aged Care

common manual handling equipment

Utilising proper manual handling equipment is not only necessary in some circumstances, but it’s also a great way to minimise manual handling risks, hazards, and injuries. Manual handling equipment in aged care includes various tools and devices designed to assist in the safe movement and handling of elderly individuals. Some common examples of manual handling equipment used in aged care are:

  1. Hoists: Hoists are used to lift and transfer individuals from one position to another, such as from a bed to a chair, reducing the risk of strain or injury for both caregivers and patients.
  2. Transfer belts: These belts are worn around the waist and are used to support the lower back when lifting or moving a person, helping to distribute the weight evenly and reduce strain on the back.
  3. Slide sheets: Slide sheets are used to aid in the movement and transfer of individuals, reducing friction and making it easier to reposition patients in bed or transfer them to another surface.
  4. Wheelchairs: Wheelchairs are essential for providing mobility to elderly individuals with difficulty walking or standing for extended periods.
  5. Walking aids: Walking aids such as walking frames and canes are used to support elderly individuals with mobility issues, helping them move around safely and independently.

Manual Handling Training

Manual handling training is of paramount importance in aged care. It covers risk assessment, proper lifting techniques, body mechanics, the use of assistive devices, and strategies to prevent injuries while also promoting open communication, reporting of incidents or concerns, and adherence to relevant safety regulations and guidelines. Without proper techniques and knowledge, caregivers can inadvertently cause harm to the individuals they are trying to help, leading to manual handling injuries such as strains, sprains, or fractures. This is what makes manual handling training a mandatory first step for anyone looking to get a start in Australia’s aged care industry.

An important aspect of manual handling training is that it must be taken in person. Online manual handling courses do not properly expose students to manual handling equipment and train them in its correct usage. Students who complete online manual handling training don’t get the same range and depth of experience as those who complete an in-person course.

The Importance of Refresher Training

For Australian healthcare workers, including those working in aged care, taking refresher training once every year is not only highly recommended, it’s mandatory. Manual handling refresher training is essential to ensure that healthcare workers maintain and reinforce their knowledge and skills in safe manual handling practices. The importance of refresher training is highlighted by several factors:

  1. Skill Decay: Without regular practice, manual handling skills can deteriorate over time, leading to a decline in the ability to perform tasks safely and effectively, and increasing the risk of associated injuries.
  2. Reassurance of Safe Practices: Regular refresher courses help reassure workers about the continued application of safe manual handling practices, countering the natural drift towards bad habits and promoting a culture of safety.
  3. Update on Best Practices: Refresher training provides an opportunity to update staff on the latest best practices, techniques, and equipment in manual handling, ensuring that they are aware of and trained in the most effective and safe methods available.
  4. Compliance with Legal Requirements: Regular refresher training ensures that staff remain compliant with legal and regulatory requirements for manual handling training, which is essential for the safety of both employees and the individuals under their care.
  5. Injury Prevention: By refreshing and updating skills, staff are better equipped to prevent manual handling injuries, such as strains and sprains, ultimately benefiting both the workers and the individuals in their care.

Creating a Safer Workplace for Aged Care

If you’re a healthcare or aged care worker in Australia, then your organisation likely already prioritises ensuring all employees have completed manual handling training and schedules your refresher training for you. If not, then you need to take it upon yourself to ensure you’re fully trained in the best, safest, and most recent manual handling practices for both your and your clients’ safety and well-being.

If you’re looking at becoming an aged care worker in Australia, then manual handling training is a great first step. You can either take this training on its own to get a feel for it, or you can take it as part of one of Skills Training College’s aged care training courses. For those who look after an elderly loved one, this training focuses on providing anyone with a professional level of skills and knowledge.

Whoever you are, whatever category you fit into, it’s all the same. Sign up for a manual handling course with Skills Training College today, to ensure you, your colleagues, and your patients, are all as well-looked after as they can possibly be.