Be SMART with manual handling

Be SMART with manual handling

According to Safe Work Australia, muscle strains and sprains are the most common workplace injuries in Australia, accounting for almost a third of all reported injuries1. Most of these injuries are caused by lifting, pushing or pulling objects.

Like any other hazard, the risks associated with manual handling and lifting should be identified using a risk management tool, like a Take 5, and controls chosen according to the Hierarchy of Controls – from most effective to least effective.

Be SMART with manual handling. Before lifting an object ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do I have to lift this object?
  2. Can I move it in a safer way, for example getting someone to help me?
  3. Can I use a lifting aid, like a trolley?
  4. Are there procedures to follow that can help me lift the object safely?
  5. Is there any PPE that can help me lift the object safely and efficiently, like gloves with extra grip?

If you have to move the object, on your own without the use of a lifting aid, be SMART about it!

S Size up the load
  • Assess the load size, shape and weight. If it is too heavy or big – do NOT lift it. Find another way to move the load.
  • Determine the new location.
  • Check there is a clear path to the new location.
M Move the load close to your body
  • It takes less effort to lift or carry something when it is close to the body.
  • Use the full length of your hands and fingers to support the load.
  • Get a firm grip that can be held for the full distance of the carry.
A Always bend your knees
  • Position your feet as close as possible to the load, one foot slightly ahead of the other and feet slightly apart.
  • Bend your knees at a wide angle and use a semi-squat.
  • Don’t stretch your back, keep you spine in its natural curve.
R Raise the load using your legs
  • Keep your arms close to your sides and slightly bent at the elbows.
  • Raise your head with your chin just before lifting, and take a deep breath.
  • Raise the load by straightening your legs.
  • Use leg muscles instead of back muscles.
  • Do not change grip while carrying.
  • Complete the lift smoothly and in one move.
T Turn your feet in the direction you want to move the load
  • Change direction by turning your feet, not your back.
  • Avoid bending, twisting and reaching.
  • Set the load down by squatting.
  • Keep your head up and let your legs do the work.

So, be SMART and stay safe!

For further information on manual handling and lifting, contact Pertrain Pty Ltd on (07) 5445 2233.


  1. Safe Work Australia, Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-10,
  2. Pertrain Pty Ltd, Shift Materials Using Manual Handling Methods Training Package, 2013.