Fix the problem

The most effective and reliable way to fix hazardous manual tasks is to follow and adhere to the hierarchy of control. In fact, the work health and safety regulations state that a business MUST work through this hierarchy when choosing a control measure to implement.

Eliminating the risk is the most effective control measure and involves eliminating the hazardous manual task and its associated risk. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, then you must follow the hierarchy in order to minimise the risks.

Providing ‘how to lift safely’ training must not be used as the sole or primary means to control hazardous manual tasks. This type of control is not effective in fixing the problem
Hierarchy of controlExample of control measures
Level 1Elimination
  • Automate the manual task (such as using remote controls)
  • Deliver goods directly to the point of use to eliminate manual handling
Level 2Substitution
  • Replace heavy items with those that are lighter, smaller and/or easier to handle
  • Replace hand tools with power to reduce the level of force required to do the task
  • Isolate vibrating machinery from the user eg by providing fully independent seating on mobile plant
  • Use mechanical lifting aids
  • Provide workstations that are height adjustable
Level 3Administrative
  • Rotate workers between different tasks
  • Arrange workflows to avoid peak physical and mental demands towards the end of a shift
Personal protective equipment
  • Heat resistant gloves for handling hot items
  • Shock absorbant shoes for work on hard concrete floors

To implement the most effective controls, you must:

  • Look at the root cause of the problem:
    • workplace environmental conditions
    • the design of the work area
    • the layout of the workplace
    • the systems of work used, and
    • the nature, size, weight or number of persons, animals or things involved in carrying out the hazardous manual task
  • Start at the top of the hierarchy of control.
  • Talk with workers to identify appropriate controls.
  • Enable workers to trial controls and give their feedback before decisions are made to make them permanent.
  • Communicate the reasons for the change to workers and others.
  • Ensure that any equipment used in the manual task is properly maintained.
  • Provide training and supervision to ensure workers can competently implement the risk controls.

Training should include information about manual tasks risk management, specific manual tasks risks and how to control them.

This is a legal requirement under the WHS Regulation - Part 3.1 and Clause 60
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