Manual Tasks and Workstations

Manual Tasks

Many jobs involve the performance of manual tasks where the body is used to move or hold an object, people or animals. Manual tasks are those that require you to push, pull, lift, carry, move, hold, lower or restrain any object, person or animal, and include tasks that have repetitive actions (including typing) or sustained postures. Manual tasks include stacking shelves, working on a conveyor belt and working at a computer or on laboratory equipment.

Hazardous Manual Tasks

Some manual tasks are hazardous and may cause musculoskeletal disorders, which are the most common workplace injuries in Australia. A manual task becomes hazardous when it involves one or more of the following:-

  • Repetitive
  • Sustained
  • Sudden
  • High

  • Sustained
  • Awkward

  • Repetitive


  • Prolonged use of a power tool
  • Operating mobile plant

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

  • individuals complete the online Ergonomics and Manual Tasks training, which contains information on how to manage manual tasks, via the UNSW Moodle in myUNSW .This is a UNSW induction requirement for new staff, who are automatically enrolled. Existing staff who have not completed this induction should register via myUNSW. Contact UNSW Health and Safety at if you have any queries.
  • supervisors/managers follow the requirements of HS432 Hazardous Manual Tasks Procedure which provides information on how to identify, assess and manage hazardous manual tasks.