1 min read

When is a load too big to push?

Q: Is there is a maximum weight that can be pushed by a staff member? This is in relation to food-serving trolleys in a nursing home.

A: There is currently no maximum weight prescribed either by legislation or otherwise that may be pushed by a worker. This is because it has become widely recognised that different people have different physical capabilities, and that a weight of a load to be moved is only one of the factors that may contribute to injury.

Having said this, the National Code of Practice for Manual Handling 1990 suggests the following as a general guide for moving heavy loads:

  • risk of injury increases significantly when weights between 16kg to 55kg are being handled, so these tasks require special attention in risk assessment. Mechanical assistance and/or team lifting should be provided to reduce injury risk in these circumstances; and
  • no person should be required to handle weights over 55kg without mechanical aids or team lifting.

We recommend that you ensure your workers engage in the safest manual-handling practices possible, through adequate training and communication about safety procedures, and that suitable risk control measures are implemented.

This is because work health and safety legislation provides that hazardous manual tasks have to be identified, and the risks of lifting or moving the load must be managed. That is, the risks of strains, sprains or other injuries must be eliminated, or if that is not reasonably practicable, the risks must be minimised.

This may be done by having regard to the weight of the load as well as all other relevant factors that may contribute to an injury.

For more information about safety procedures and addressing manual handling risks, you may view the National Code of Practice for Manual Handling 1990 or SafeWork Australia’s Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice at the SafeWork Australia website.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Road transport worker safety for current advice.

Subscribe to the Health & Safety Bulletin

From the experts behind the Health & Safety Handbook, the Bulletin brings you the latest work health and safety news, legal updates, case law and practical advice straight to your inbox every week.

Sending confirmation email...
Great! Now check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription.
Please enter a valid email address!