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What is the best way to lift?

Well, there is no definitive best way to lift. Any manual lifting which requires force, awkward or static postures, or is repetitive, may contain some risk of injury.

There is strong evidence that teaching people how to lift, or using programs that include lifting techniques such as keeping a neutral spine and bending your knees or bracing your abdominals, are ineffective and are wasting employers' time and money.

However, you do need to train your workers about the potential risks and the measures they can use to control the risks, such as mechanical aids, tools and equipment. You should also include workers in identifying those jobs that cause them the greatest strain or difficulty.

Involving workers in identifying the most effective and safest way to get the job done is the best prevention. Often, a hazardous manual task has nothing to do with lifting but might involve sustained awkward positions or force being applied in pushing and pulling or restraining.

High workplace demands and other psychosocial stressors also can cause a sprain and strain injury. It's important that you consider the environment and organisational system in which the work is carried out.

Get the conversation started at work with some simple questions for your workers:

  • What are the tiring, painful, difficult tasks for you or others?
  • What would you suggest to reduce the risks of you or one of your co-workers being injured as a result of manual tasks?
  • What needs to change?

Workers often identify very simple and easily applied solutions to potentially hazardous manual tasks. Task redesign and/or the use of mechanical aids that eliminate the need to lift should always be considered first before talking about safe procedures and other administrative controls.

If you're wondering whether you have a hazardous manual task and need to do something about it, check out this simple worksheet (PDF, 0.23 MB). It will help guide you and your team to find the safest solution.

More information

For more information about lifting technique training visit