Aged Care Worker Injury Prevention

The aged care sector includes workers who provide care, physical assistance, and supervision for the elderly in the home, residential settings, privately funded care, or hospitals. When it comes to this important and rewarding work of assisting and providing care daily, everyday tasks can pose risks to the health and wellbeing of the workers within this industry.

If your business operates in the aged care industry, it is important to be aware of those risks and take extra precautions to protect your workforce.

 The most common hazards and risks associated with, but not limited to, the following tasks in the aged care sector:

  • Lifting, supporting, and moving individuals
  • Moving and handling equipment such as beds, mattresses, trolleys, and wheelchairs
  • Occupational violence and aggression
  • Work-related stress
  • Bullying and harassment.

Of these risks, those that fall under the category of manual handling risks remain the most common cause of injuries for workers in aged care facilities.

Common Injuries for Aged Care Workers 

High rates of work-related musculoskeletal injuries continue to occur for aged care workers, which are directly related to high-risk manual handling tasks such as lifting individuals from a bed to a chair, handling heavy objects and moving furniture.

The most affected areas of the musculoskeletal system are the back, followed by the shoulder, arm, hand, neck, and knee (JobSafe SA 2023). Nurses, carers, cleaners, laundry, maintenance, administration, and kitchen staff are all at risk of sustaining sprains, strains, and other musculoskeletal injuries.

Workers are also susceptible to psychological injury such as work-related stress that derives specifically from conditions in the workplace. Psychosocial hazards occur where aspects of the job, including job overload, low job control, conflict or poor workplace relationships and bullying, cause a stress response (SafeWork NSW 2021).

Current Statistics

In 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that of the eight occupation group categories, the ‘community and personal service workers’ occupation group – which includes aged care workers – had the highest rate of work-related injuries. Other occupation groups with high rates of work-related injuries included machinery operators and drivers, labourers and technicians and trades workers.

Workers in the healthcare and social assistance industry submit serious compensation claims more frequently than workers in any other sector. According to Safe Work Australia, these made up 20% of all serious claims in 2022. 87% of all serious claims were for injuries, with the most common injury types being traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries, as well as musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases.

Reducing and Preventing Workplace Injuries

The most common injuries and hazards for people working in the aged care sector (as shown by injury claims data from WorkSafe Victoria), and relevant measures to reduce their severity and frequency, are as follows:

Lifting and assisting residents

  • Reduce the frequency of manual lifting of individuals, except in life-threatening situations, by providing appropriate mechanical aids and equipment.
  • Provide workers with education/training on how to assist individuals in their own transfers.
  • Train workers in safe handling methods and how to safely use any mechanical aids and equipment that is part of their job.

Pushing and pulling equipment (e.g., trolleys and wheelchairs)

  • Identify ways to minimise injuries related to a particular task.
  • Ergonomically assess the workplace to reduce the need to push or pull equipment on a frequent basis
  • Train workers in safe handling methods and how to safely use any mechanical aids and equipment that is part of their job.

Slips, trips and falls

  • Make recommendations on appropriate footwear to prevent slips, trips and falls.
  • Provide regular updates and education on hazard identification that may cause slips, trips and falls.
  • Provide height access equipment, and the necessary training, that requires workers to operate above shoulder height. This will reduce the need for workers to operate beyond their centre of balance.

Work-related stress, bullying and harassment 

  • Regularly assess psychosocial risk factors and implement changes.
  • Regular education and training on psychosocial risk factors – what is it and how to manage it.
  • Implement appropriate policies and procedures for workplace bullying and harassment including mental health first aid training to educate and support workers.
  • Provide access to, and encourage workers, to use counselling or support services where possible, for example introducing an accredited employee assistance program.

Be an employer of choice

Organisations are looking at moving beyond injuries in the workplace. Better injury prevention strategies and technology are being introduced to anticipate and adapt to evolving risks. While there is no way to eliminate injuries, there are programs, tools and actions than can reduce them, including:

  • Promoting and communicating safety with regular safety briefings, including safety as a beginning topic in meetings and employee safety training.
  • Routinely checking for safety hazards, like spills or obstacles.
  • Enforcing proper attire that is necessary for accident prevention, like safety glasses, gloves or slip-resistant shoes.
  • Providing onsite physiotherapy resulting in immediate assessment, diagnosis and treatment of an injury, reducing loss of productivity and costs associated with workers leaving the workplace to be treated by an offsite health provider.
  • Onsite injury prevention and health surveillance programs monitoring workers on a regular basis to ensure their working environment does not negatively or adversely affect their overall health.

In addition to onsite injury prevention strategies mentioned earlier, organisations can introduce preventative measures such as pre-employment screenings, health assessments, mental health first aid training, manual handling training, task-specific training, job task analysis as well as high-level controls involving hazard identification, risk assessment, risk controls, and reviewing control measures.

There are undoubtedly complex hazards that exist within the aged care industry. With the right preventative measures, you can protect yourself and your workers to ensure a positive working environment with a lower incidence of injuries attributable to manual tasks.

Prevent Workplace Injuries with Bodycare

Bodycare’s comprehensive injury prevention methods of care can assist by providing a framework designed to lower the prevalence of risks and costs associated with injuries in the workplace. Further opportunities to provide onsite injury prevention means that care can be tailored using context-specific environmental strategies that can improve safety for all stakeholders in aged care.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

JobSafe SA

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork NSW

WorkSafe Victoria