Follow Us

Manual Tasks

Most workplace tasks use some form of manual handling to carry out the task at hand. Under the new Australian harmonised Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws; manual tasks is referred to throughout the legislation and regulations making it a key topic for workplace health and safety compliance.

MSD pic edited-2What is a manual task?

A manual task uses the body to move or hold an object, people or animal. Manual tasks cover a broad range of activities including stacking shelves, working on a conveyor line, preparing ingredients in a kitchen, constructing a window frame and even entering data into a computer. Some manual tasks are hazardous to our health and may cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s). These are the most common workplace injuries across Australia.

What is a musculoskeletal disorder?

Musculoskeletal disorders consist of minor physical disabilities to the body. These disabilities can include effected muscles, bones and joints. Pain and discomfort may interfere with the ability to work safely and promptly.

The risk of musculoskeletal disorders increases with age. Due to the body aging this includes muscles tearing easier and injuries repairing slower. An early finding of pain or discomfort is by far the best key to help prevent even further injury.  A few signs of early damage include:

  • Poor posture
  • Muscular tightness 
  • Joint stiffness
  • Restricted range of movement
  • Persistent pain and twinges

How to combat MSD’s

Companies sometimes completely replace people from certain workplace tasks with machines; completely taking workers out of danger. Other mechanical means to help protect us from hazardous tasks include using forklifts, trolleys and conveyor belts to move products or heightening benches to prevent workers from over bending.

Personal protective equipment can also be used to help prevent body damage regarding MSD’s. Certain PPE could include back brases, waist belts or wrist guards.


Having a company policy on MSD prevention should always be used in companies to help counter injuries and assist injuries that occur. This policy can include health surveillance, medical treatment and rehabilitation where necessary.   

Hazardous Manual Tasks: SA Master Builders - SA Master Builders





Labouring and civil


States and territories


Australian Documents




New South Wales




Western Australia




Australian Capital Territory


Northern Territory


South Australia