Manual tasks in construction

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The construction industry is labour intensive. Materials such as bricks, timber, cement bags, tiles, and plasterboard are carried or manipulated by hand, often over rough or slippery terrain. Manual task injuries remain one of the industry's largest single causes of injury causing pain and suffering injured workers, their families and a loss of experience, skills and productivity in the industry. Ways your workplace can reduce risks associated with construction work may include:

Work area and layout

  • Increase the space to do the task to reduce postures such as twisting, reaching and stooping.
  • Change where items are put in the work area, e.g. to minimise the effort needed to do the task.
  • Change the layout to improve workflow.

Nature of items, equipment and tools used

  • Alter the design or substitute the items, equipment and tools for those that allow the manual task to be performed safely and comfortably and are suited to the environment.

Nature of load

  • Use a mechanical aid, handling device, or wheeled equipment.
  • Divide the load into smaller weights.
  • Change the size or shape of the load.
  • Apply handles to the load.
  • Make the load more stable.
  • Place labels on the load.

Working environment

  • Provide adequate space for handling objects.
  • Reduce the effects of adverse climatic conditions.
  • Improve lighting. Improve floor surfaces.
  • Reduce noise and other distractions.
  • Provide adequate ventilation.

Systems of work, work organisation and work practices

  • Rotation of workers through other tasks.
  • Change how long an activity is carried out (duration).
  • Change how often and quickly the activity is performed (frequency).
  • Change how the activity is done.

WorkSafe has developed a series of fact sheets for the construction industry to highlight the risks and provide solutions to help prevent injury. Fact sheets have been developed for topics generic across all construction work and specific materials for plumbers and electricians.

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