Human Resources Division

Manual handling

This section places obligations on all managers.

"Manual handling" means using your body to exert force to handle, support or restrain any object, and includes not only lifting and carrying but also repetitive tasks. A manual handling task that has the potential to cause injury is a "hazardous manual handling task". Further information is provided by WorkSafe and the Manual handling section of the OHS website.

Precautions for staff to take

Help to protect yourself from injury by (discuss with your manager as necessary):

  • if you do more than two hours of keyboard work a day, taking a 10 minute break from such work after each hour
  • if you do keyboard work for more than one hour a day, making sure you have ergonomic furniture
  • if you use a laptop computer, obtaining and using a separate keyboard and mouse
  • not routinely lifting from a standing position things which weigh more than 10 kilograms unless a manual handling assessment of the task has been carried out
  • not routinely lifting from a sitting position things which weigh more than 2 kilograms unless a manual handling assessment of the task has been carried out.

What a manager must do?

A manager must:

  • identify any hazardous manual handling tasks by using either the WorkSafe Manual Handling Risk Assessment (344 KB) for general manual handling or the Computer Workstation Risk Assessment (154 KB) for computer based work.
  • using the checklist, assess the risks associated with any task identified
  • eliminate the task if reasonably possible (e.g. automate the task)
  • otherwise change something to reduce the risk (e.g. substitute a lighter load, divide the load, two people to do the task instead of one, provide a trolley)
  • consult with staff about risk management (refer to consultation section of this manual)
  • when considering acquisition of plant, evaluate any manual handling risks first and take them into account in the acquisition decision.

All staff

Remember to report an injury as soon as possible. For details refer to Injuries and incidents – reporting and following up.

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Hazard Identification and Hazardous Manual Handling

Victorian legislation requires that all tasks in the workplace involving hazardous manual handling are identified and the risk of injury assessed. Not all manual handling tasks are hazardous. Hazard identification is the way you can of sift through tasks to find out which ones have the potential to cause injury.

Potentially hazardous manual handling involves any of the following:

  • repetitive or sustained application of force (e.g. pushing or pulling a heavily loaded trolley)
  • repetitive or sustained awkward posture (e.g. carrying out work in a constrained space)
  • repetitive or sustained movement (e.g. keyboard work)
  • application of high force (lifting or moving heavy loads)

Priority in identification and assessment should be given to routine tasks, tasks carried out by a number of people and tasks that staff have concerns about.

If the task is identified as potentially hazardous, a manual handling assessment must be carried out.

Manual Handling Injuries

The above is essentially a preventative approach where you try to identify problems before they occur. However if someone incurs an injury in manual handling or raises concerns about the activity, a manual handling assessment must be carried out by the supervisor or manager.

Manual Handling Risk Assessment

If the assessment indicates that there is a reasonable likelihood of injury, suitable control or prevention measures must be introduced to reduce the risk as much as practicable. If the hazardous manual handling task cannot be eliminated, standard controls measures include:

  • Redesigning the task, load or workstation
  • Providing mechanical assistance or aids
  • Providing safe working procedures
  • Providing training

In reality, controls are usually a combination of these measures.

Where ever possible, the assessment of manual handling risks and the implementation of control measures must be carried out in consultation with OHS representatives and the staff affected.

An element of your Faculty's or Division's OHS Plan must cover manual handling.

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25th September 2012