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Manual handling law is managed by Acts of Parliament in each State and Territory in Australia. Each State and Territory has an Act (the Law), which enforces Regulations (the framework), which are supported by Codes of Practice (the guidance). There are also National Standards and Codes of Practice which guide the States and Territories.

What you need to know is that there are obligations or duty of care, set out in these laws, standards and codes. Obligations and duty of care apply for the employer, employees and even sub contractors and volunteers.

What are an employer’s obligations? Your health and safety at work is very important to employers. It is also very important to our government.

The law imposes a general duty to make your workplace safe, as well as specific duties in relation to hazards such as manual handling. Employers must identify any tasks that involve hazardous manual handling. If these tasks pose a risk of injury, they must eliminate the risk.

If it’s not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, employers must reduce the risk, as far as reasonably practicable, by:

  • changing the workplace layout, the workplace environment or the systems of work
  • changing the objects used in the task, or
  • using mechanical aids.

If there is still a risk after using these methods, employers should control it by providing information, training (a manual handling course may be required) or instruction.

Under the OHS Act, employers must consult with employees when identifying hazardous manual handling and making decisions about risk control.

Your employer must review (and, where necessary, revise) your risk controls if things change, if there is a report of manual handling related injury in the workplace, or at the request of a health and safety representative.

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