manual handling

Traditional manual handling training won’t reduce workplace injuries

If you organise manual handling training at your workplace every year, you need to ask yourself if you are doing it to just tick a box to get the regulator off your back or are you doing it because you genuinely care for your staff and want to stop them getting injured? If it is the latter, then you are most likely wasting your time and money.

You only need to look at the evidence to show that traditional manual handling is a waste of time. A systematic review by Clemes et. al. (2009) found traditional manual handling training to be ‘largely ineffective’. It could be down to principles taught in a controlled environment not being applicable to the rigours of the job role or it could be the fact that what is being taught is completely ineffective.

So if this training doesn’t work, what has been shown to reduce injury risk?

The same review by Clemes et. al. (2009) found that exercise intervention strategies had evidence to suggest they could reduce the risk of manual handling related injuries. Improving an individual’s functional capacity through strength and flexibility training means that the individual can then cope with the rigours of the job demands.

Absolute Balance has recently completed a successful program with Iluka Resources which uses these evidence-based principles to reduce their worker’s risk of injuries from manual handling. The program involved creating individualised, tailored strength and flexibility programs to help workers cope with the physical challenges of their job roles as well as managing any pre-existing injuries.

It is great to see forward-thinking organisations like Iluka Resources implementing effective evidence-based programs as opposed to just looking to ‘tick a box’ with traditional manual handling.

Don’t be afraid to step away from the norm and get rid of traditional manual handling training.


Aaron McErlaine (BSc – ExHealth, BSc – ExRehab, Dip WHS, Cert IV TAE)

Health & Injury Prevention Services Manager (AEP) (ESSAM)




Clemes, S. A., Haslam, C. O., & Haslam, R. A. (2009). What constitutes effective manual handling training? A systematic review. Occupational Medicine, 2010(60), 101-107.