How to Control Hazards for Manual Tasks -  Part 2 of 2 - The 5 Minute Safety Series

Posted by Craig Thornton

Hazards associated with manual tasks will be the most common hazards in your workplace.

In this video (part 2 of 2) you will learn from Michael Terry of Momentum Safety about both controlling and reviewing manual task hazards in your workplace.



Video Transcription

In the last blog we discussed the different risk assessment tools that we can use for manual tasks.

Now we're moving on to risk control.

Risk control is where you fix up the problems that you've identified in your risk assessment process. 

Manual tasks - risk control


When it comes to risk control, we want to use the "hierarchy of control".

Eliminate the Task

To eliminate a manual task it can't be done most the time. You need to do the task for a reason, but very occasionally, there may be a fully automated option that you can use to eliminate that task.

Substitute the Task with Another Option

Otherwise, you might look at substituting the task with a safer option, or you could use an engineering solution.

The engineering controls include things like lifting aids. It's going to be all sorts of things that we can use to mechanically create, move or lift a particular object.

Manual tasks - lifters

This might be things like lifters (see above).

Manual task - forklift

Or it might be even something as simple as a forklift (see above).

There's a lot of innovative equipment that's out these days, you can use things like vacuum lifters

These are all examples of engineering options that we can use to reduce the requirement to lift or move the particular object that we're considering.

Administration Controls to Minimise the Task

Administrative controls are things like thinking about task rotation. This is making sure that we're not having the same worker do all the heavy lifting in the workplace.

But one of the main administrative controls is manual task training. One of the things that we do know about generic manual task training is that it's not a very effective control for eliminating or reducing the risk of manual tasks. So if we are going to do training, it needs to be task specific and it also needs to make sure that it covers off on particular requirements to do with work procedures for that task.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Controls

Finally, you should consider PPE which for manual tasks is not really an option.

The one thing that people have tried in the past is back braces. Back braces have been shown to be not particularly effective either.


So you can see when you're talking about the hierarchy of control for manual tasks, it is really important that you get as many things up the top of the hierarchy.

That means using engineering controls where we possibly can, and not relying too heavily on administrative controls.

Reviewing Manual Tasks

When it comes to reviewing your manual tasks risks, the usual review processes that you would go through you might use your safety committee.

Manual tasks - reviews

But one particular risk review option to consider when it comes to manual tasks is conducting a discomfort survey

Discomfort surveys are something that you can hand out to your workers and they can tell you exactly how much pain that they're in. They're a great way of assessing the effectiveness of your manual task controls.

Manual tasks - discomfort surveys

You may conduct a discomfort survey before you implement your risk controls.  Then after a few weeks of the risk control you might conduct it again. You can sometimes see a real change in how uncomfortable workers are with performing these hazardous manual tasks.


  1. Always identify those hazardous manual tasks using the risk factors in Part 1.
  2. When it comes to controlling those risks, you must consider using the hierarchy of control, because we know that using purely administrative controls like training is not particularly effective in this area.
  3. You should consider some novel ways of reviewing how effective our controls are. You won't always get an immediate and massive reduction in your injury rates. Sometimes that can take a little bit of time, so consider using something like a discomfort survey.

Tags: Health & Safety, Manual Handling, Manual Tasks