Safety, Health and Injury Management and Wellbeing

Office Relocation Procedure: Manual Task Risk Management

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Office Relocation Procedure: Manual Task Risk Management

This document provides guidance for University managers to ensure they can adequately identify, assess and control risks associated with manual tasks when relocating workplaces.

Employer’s duties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 extend to providing:

  • a workplace where workers are not exposed to hazards
  • a safe system of work; and
  • information, instruction, training and supervision to workers so they can work in a safe manner

More specifically, Regulation 3.4(2)(a) requires that an employer must, as far as practicable, identify each hazard that is likely to arise from manual handling at the workplace. This includes the identification of manual handling tasks that may give rise to injuries or harm or those where employees have identified concerns

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Hazard Identification

Hazardous Manual Tasks Include:

  • forces exerted by the worker (eg lifting, lowering or carrying) or on the worker by an item, person or animal
  • awkward postures (eg bending forwards, twisting or reaching)
  • sustained postures (eg prolonged sitting or standing)
  • repetitive movements (eg repeating an action frequently, without breaks)
  • vibration - whole-body (eg sitting in certain vehicles) and hand-arm (eg using certain powered tools)
  • manual tasks involving the handling of a person or an animal; or.
  • manual tasks involving the handling of unstable or unbalanced loads or loads difficult to grasp or hold

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Risk Assessment

The risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury during the relocation process can be assessed based on these factors:

  • size, weight and stability of the objects being handled
  • the heights at which the object are handled
  • the ease with which the object can be grasped
  • the duration and frequency of handling
  • the availability of appropriate mechanical assistance
  • the fitness and skill of those carrying out the manual handling tasks

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Risk Control

Planning, communication and consultation

  • Identify the relocation coordinator (RC). This is typically the department manager who will be the main point of contact and responsible for organizing the relocation in conjunction with Campus Management (CM)
  • RC to schedule time for CM and/or removal company to perform an office walk through and outline the specific requirements for the move
  • RC to provide at least one month’s notification (email and verbal) to all staff noting when the move is scheduled, staff requirements / responsibilities and the training and equipment available to them
  • RC to schedule time for a presentation to all staff from the removal company/CM on the details of the move including manual handling considerations
  • Ensure that staff members with existing injuries or medical conditions are identified and any additional assistance and support is discussed
  • RC to determine how communal areas will be packed and develop a roster if staff are required to assist with packing and cleaning these areas
  • RC to advise staff of the general physical requirements for the move outlining they will need to lift, push, pull, bend, carry and hold items weighing up to 10kg. Encourage staff members to advise if they anticipate any difficulty meeting these requirements.
  • RC to ensure there are regular updates provided to staff with timeframes for completion of major tasks and any changes to their responsibilities

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Practical guidance, information and instruction

  • Low risk manual tasks are to be completed by staff and include packing small office items such as diaries, calendars, personal items, files, stationary, mouse, keyboard and phone (10 kg maximum per box)
  • High risk manual tasks are to be completed by removal company and include movement of boardroom tables, desks, monitors, cabinets, chairs, book cases
  • Packing boxes should be of adequate size and shape to ensure they can be easily grasped and do not exceed 10 kg per box
  • Encourage staff to pack boxes at waist height to avoid adopting awkward postures
  • Staff to clearly label the box with their name and contents and ensure they are closed and secured prior to storing
  • Identify where packed boxes will be stored and ensure this location does not inhibit access or present a trip hazard. A suitable location would be in an area or room which is not frequently used
  • Staff should be encouraged to transport boxes to storage area using trolley or cart provided
  • Ensure there is adequate storage space and advise that boxes are to be stored between ankle and shoulder height
  • Encourage staff to plan ahead and commence packing gradually to avoid repetitive movements
  • Encourage staff to maintain high levels of housekeeping during the move, using the opportunity to discard rubbish, broken and unused items.

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Equipment and Assistance

  • Ensure an adequate supply of packing equipment including boxes of appropriate size and condition, tape, scissors, weigh scales and labelling gun
  • Ensure assistive equipment is available to assist employees with packing including trolleys (flat bed and two tiered), carts, step stools and gloves
  • Ensure an adequate supply of cleaning products and bins for rubbish and recycling
  • Where staff members are unable to pack their office due to a medical condition assistance should be provided by colleagues, manager or CM to complete the physical tasks associated with packing and relocating offices
  • Encourage staff to wear suitable clothing when they intend to pack their office (closed toe shoes and unrestrictive attire)

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  • Ensure staff have completed the UWA Online Safety Induction
  • Schedule a presentation from CM outlining details of the office relocation and manual handling considerations
  • Provide link to WorkSafe WA ‘Preventing injuries from manual tasks in the workplace’ as a resource for staff -
  • Safety, Health and Wellbeing can arrange tailored manual handling training to the work area on request. Contact the Injury Management Consultant on 6488 4683 or [email protected]  for further information

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  • Department of Commerce. (2010). Code of Practice – Manual Tasks.
  • University of Queensland (2010). Manual Tasks Associated with Relocation / Refurbishment of Workplaces.

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