Patient handling continues to represent a high risk task for low back pain (LBP) among health caregivers. Previous studies indicated that manual transfers of patients impose unacceptable loads on the spine even when two caregivers perform the transfer. Patient lift devices are considered a potential intervention; however, few biomechanical analyses have investigated the spine loads and LBP risk associated with these transfer devices. This study analysed the 3-D spine forces imposed upon the lumbar spine when 10 subjects manipulated ceiling-based and floor-based patient lifts through various patient handling conditions and manoeuvres. The results indicated that ceiling-mounted patient lift systems imposed spine forces upon the lumbar spine that would be considered safe, whereas floor-based patient handling systems had the potential to increase anterior/posterior shear forces to unacceptable levels during patient handling manoeuvres. Given these findings, ceiling-based lifts are preferable to floor-based patient transfer systems.