Most jobs involve carrying out some type of manual task using your body to move or hold an object, people or animals. Manual tasks cover a wide range of activities including:

  • stacking shelves;
  • lifting or lowering heavy objects;
  • repetitive movement such as keyboard tasks;
  • work where posture is awkward.

Some manual tasks are hazardous and may cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including back problems.

Not all manual tasks are hazardous. It is therefore necessary to identify those tasks that are hazardous and ensure they are adequately managed.

WHS Regulations require the University to manage the risks to health and safety associated with hazardous manual tasks.

Supervisors must ensure that, in consultation with you, they:

  • identify any hazardous manual tasks in areas for which they are responsible;
  • do a risk assessment for any manual tasks that are identified as hazardous;
  • implement controls to eliminate or minimise the risks.


Code of Practice Hazardous Manual Tasks

The Code provides practical guidance on how to manage the risk of musculoskeletal disorders arising from hazardous manual tasks in the workplace.

Hazardous Manual Tasks Overview  (SafeWork SA document)

Hazardous Manual Tasks Risk Management Worksheet (PDF 861KB)

Use this worksheet to decide if a manual task is hazardous, to identify the source of the risk and to identify the controls to eliminate or reduce the risk(s).

Sit Less, Move More Brochure (PDF 359KB)

Sedentary Work (WorkSafe Qld)


The WHS Unit arranges regular manual handling training. Please contact the WHS Unit if you have identified the need for such training.