Manual Handling

Manual handling is any activity that involves lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving, holding or restraining. It also includes sustained and awkward postures, or repetitive motions.

In NSW, manual handling incidents represent the most common cause of workplace injuries.

To provide a safe environment for volunteers and ensure that Council meets its legal obligations, we will:

  • Remain committed to workplace safety: Council’s delegated authority model of management defines the responsibilities of Council and of volunteers regarding manual handling tasks. Council will provide resources and training to meet those responsibilities.
  • Consultation: Council involves volunteers in the identification and resolution of manual handling issues.
  • Safe work procedures: Volunteers and Council officers identify the tasks that involve manual handling and may pose a risk to people, and have developed procedures to manage those risks.  These procedures as well as other useful information have been posted to this website.
  • Training and supervision: Council provides training in manual handling to Volunteer Safety Officers.  Volunteer Safety Officers then induct and train volunteers at their particular facility and ensure that procedures and guidelines are followed.  Council officers regularly perform monitoring and checks of adherence to these processes.
  • Reporting safety: Council has a standard process for reporting manual handling issues, such as hazards and incidents.
  • Insurance coverage: Council has personal accident insurance that covers personal injury to volunteers whilst carrying out activities at a facility on Council’s behalf. 

SPLAT principles

In general, when conducting manual tasks where there is a risk of a manual handling injury, the following SPLAT principles must be applied to safely conduct the manual task.


  • Use a wide base support
  • Position your feet to allow weight transference
  • Align your body to transfer forces
  • Brace to increase support


  • No longer use ‘Bend your knees and keep your back straight’ instead ‘Maintain the natural curve of your spine’
  • Keep your feet wider than your shoulders
  • Head and chest up as much as possible
  • Brace, brace, brace!


  • Get as close as possible to the object
  • Keep the load close
  • Brace to increase support


  • Plan the task
  • Look at the size/shape/weight of the object
  • Do you need help?
  • Timing (team lift/speed etc)
  • Duration – how long will this take?
  • Your physical capacity
  • Is there another option?


  • Twist through your hips while moving your feet
  • Align feet in the direction of movement
  • Keep your shoulders and feet pointing in the same direction
  • Consider surface conditions

Some golden rules

  • Feet wider than shoulders
  • Drive up through your legs
  • Hips and knees mid range
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Load under your centre of gravity
  • Brace by leaning on or against wherever possible
  • Keep your head and chest up and bottom out, keeping natural curves
  • Remember even light and easy tasks can result in injury

Page Last Updated: 30 Jan 2015