Skip to content
Curtin University
People and Culture

Manual Tasks

manual handling image

What are Manual Tasks?

Manual tasks refer to any activity or sequence of activities that requires a person to use their physical body to perform work including:

• manual handling (the use of force in lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying or otherwise moving, holding or  restraining any person, animal or thing);  
• performing repetitive actions;
• adopting awkward or sustained postures; and
• using plant, tools or equipment that exposes workers to vibration.

Manual Tasks and Injuries

All jobs require some form of manual task, however not all manual tasks are hazardous. The most common health problems resulting from a hazardous manual task are musculoskeletal disorders (i.e. sprains and strains). They may result from gradual wear and tear caused by performing prolonged, repetitive manual tasks using incorrect technique, sudden strenuous handling or direct trauma such as trips and falls.

There are several factors that affect the risk of encountering a hazardous manual task. They are categorized into three areas:

1. The working environment (physical design of the workspace, temperature, lighting and noise)
2. The work practices and job design (how the task is performed, frequency of rest breaks or level of competency in the specific role)
3. Worker characteristics (physical limitations of the worker)

How can hazards be identified?

The Manual task risk assessment should be completed for manual tasks where there is a potential for injury.

The risk assessment team should be made up of the people who do the task, the Safety and Health Representative and the Supervisor/Line Manager.  Assistance may be sought from the Health and Safety Advisor and the Senior Ergonomics Advisor.

Click to download a copy of the Manual Task Risk Assessment and Guidelines.