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Q: What are my obligations in relation to manual handling?


A person conducting a business or undertaking has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.

The WHS Regulations include specific obligations for persons conducting a business or undertaking to manage the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) associated with a hazardous manual task.

Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant and structures that are likely to be handled or used during or as part of a manual task have an important role in eliminating or minimising the risks of MSDs, which are often associated with the poor design and layout of work areas as well as the design of equipment, tools, packaging and materials.

They must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant or structure they design, manufacture, import or supply is without risks to health and safety (see Chapter 6 of this Code for further guidance).

Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks that arise from hazardous manual tasks.

Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that they do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace.


Q: How can I set, implement and review WHS goals and KPI’s within my business for 2020?

A: It’s first a good idea to think about what it is you want the business to achieve in safety. Are you targeting zero injuries? Or are you looking to improve culture? Or is there a focus needed on your management systems? Do you need extra resources to accomplish this?

Consult with your team. While many Managers believe they know what their team is doing, capable of and capacity, it is common that Managers are withdrawn from the day-to-day lives of their team and this makes it easy to miss the little things. Can your team provide you with further insight into what the priorities should be?

Once you have identified the priorities, determine what do you need to help your team make this happen. Is it training and education? Or do you need a forum to meet? A specialist in safety who can provide guidance and advice around your systems? Does your current team have capacity for the goals?

Meet with your team, individually, and assign allocated tasks (KPI’s) around safety that is in line with their role and capabilities and provide guidance on how you can assist them in achieving this.

Having safety targets and goals that are regularly reviewed, keeps safety at the forefront and will contribute to improving the safety culture within your business.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (below) shows that second to basic human necessities, safety is the second highest requirement for human living, and in turn, positive mental health.


If you have any WHS related enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (02) 6175 5900