Do you know a tradie who is always too keen to show off their strength, without practising safe lifting techniques? It’s a recipe for disaster, and if they’re at work, it could mean a long and drawn our workers’ compensation claim too! August is Tradies Health Month, supported by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, so we’re using this month to bring you straightforward info to help keep tradies safe and healthy.


Tradies are over-represented in serious WorkCover claims in Queensland, in part due to the nature of the work, and possibly, in part because of a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude that can exist in some workplaces. Tradies often put their bodies on the line to get things done, which can result in injuries and accidents. Sprains and strains, along with chronic joint and muscle conditions account for around 37% of all serious WorkCover injuries in the construction industry in Queensland; some of which can be easily preventable.


Safe Lifting Techniques

Quite often, injuries can be prevented by remembering the basics, for experienced trades and new trades and labourers alike.  Safe lifting techniques are imperative to avoiding injury. We recommend using the SMART lifting technique to pick up small, light loads from low levels.


Size up the load.

  • Assess the load (size, shape and weight);
  • Assess whether the load needs to be moved;
  • Where is it going to be placed” Check that there are no obstructions; and
  • Assess whether mechanical or human assistance is required.

Move the Load as close to the body as possible.

  • A load is heavier to lift or carry if it is not close to the body;
  • The whole hand should be used to ensure a firm grip.

Always bend your knees.

  • Maintain balance;
  • Keep feet apart and in a comfortable position;
  • Minimise lower back bending; and
  • Bend knees preferably at as large an angle as possible but not at a right angle – use a semi-squat in preference to a full squat.

Raise the load with your legs.

  • Achieve the lift smoothly and without jerkiness;
  • Maintain the normal curvature of the spine to allow the force of the load to be distributed evenly from the spine to the pelvis.

Turn your feet in the direction that you want to move the load.

  • Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching;
  • Change direction by turning your feet and not your back;
  • To set the load down, squat down, keep your head up; and
  • Let your legs do the work.


When performing a team lift it is important that the lift is coordinated, and everyone involved uses the SMART lifting technique.


  • Team members should, wherever possible, be of around the same height and build. If this is not possible, taller members should be at the back;
  • The lift should be planned and coordinated by one person;
  • Decide who will be the leader;
  • The Leader should give simple and clear instructions;
  • Assess the weight;
  • Correct positioning of feet;
  • Straight back;
  • Correct grip;
  • Lift together;
  • Safe lifting techniques should be employed by all;
  • The leader should ensure that all team members are comfortable once the load has been lifted. If not, the load should be carefully lowered.


If your workplace needs a health and safety review, let us know. Our Workplace Partners are always happy to help you create a safer workplace!