WHS Update: Hazardous Manual Tasks

Most jobs in the workforce involve carrying out manual tasks in some way, shape or form. Examples of manual tasks include stacking shelves, working on a conveyor line or even sitting at a computer. Manual tasks that are hazardous can cause serious injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders. These are the most common workplace injuries across Australia.


The characteristics of a hazardous manual task are:

  • repetitive or sustained force
  • high or sudden force
  • repetitive movement
  • sustained or awkward posture
  • exposure to vibration.



If the risks associated with hazardous manual tasks are not eliminated or minimised they can cause significant and even irreversible injuries or disorders. The main sources of risk are:

  • work area design and layout
  • the nature, size, weight or number of things handled in performing the manual task
  • systems of work
  • the environment in which the manual task is performed.                                           



A risk assessment must be carried out for any manual tasks that have the potential of being hazardous or have been identified as being hazardous. This will help to identify postures, movements and forces that pose a risk and at what point they may become dangerous. The only time this may not be necessary is when the risk is well known and you are already aware of how to effectively control it.


As stated in our Manual Handling Policy, Baptist Care SA is committed to identification, assessment and control of all manual handling tasks performed by employees, in accordance with the requirement of the WHS Act 2012, WHS Regulations 2012 and Manual Handling code of practice’.


The approved code of practice for Manual Handling provides minimum standards of health and safety, but allows for the achievement of an equivalent or better standard of health and safety by alternative options.


In a nut shell, to avoid any manual handling injuries, always remember to follow the SAFE approach:


S  STOP – (& look at your work area, engage your mind before your hands)

A  Assess – (the environment, person and task and consider any hazards)

F  Fix – (what measures/equipment/resources do I need to do the job safely)

E  Evaluate – (was that effective? should we review the task & consult with others).

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Baptist Care SA, lives, works and walks on Kaurna, Permangk and Boandik lands. We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the state’s first peoples, recognise their traditional ownership, and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs, deep connection and continued guardianship of land and waters. We value the contributions of Elders past and present, and are committed to learning from those emerging.