Hazardous manual tasks

Many jobs involve carrying out some type of manual task using the body to move or hold objects, people, or animals. Manual tasks cover a wide range of activities including stacking shelves, repetitive work at a computer and working with laboratory equipment.

Some manual tasks are hazardous, where the task requires a person to lift, lower, push, pull carry or otherwise move, hold, or restrain any person, animal or thing, involving one or more of the following:

Application of force

  • Repetitive
  • Sustained
  • Sudden
  • High


  • Sustained
  • Awkward


  • Repetitive

Exposure to vibration

  • Prolonged use of a power tool
  • Operating certain types of plant and equipment and mobile plant
  • Operating certain hand tools
  • Operating vibrating machinery

Poor workstation setups may also result in a hazardous manual task. Refer to Workstations for further information and assistance.

To manage the risks associated with manual tasks, UNSW requires that:

  • New staff complete the online Ergonomic and Manual Tasks training (HSEEMT) and ongoing staff are required to complete the online Ergonomics Refresher training (HSEERF) every 3 years. If there are any queries concerning training requirements, contact UNSWTraining@unsw.edu.au.
  • Supervisors/managers follow the requirements of HS432 Hazardous Manual Tasks Procedure which provides information on the risk management process for manual tasks.
  • NSW Government – Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice August 2019

See also

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