This is part 2 of the manual tasks topic for this video series. We finished off last time with talking about the different risk assessment tools that we can use for manual tasks. We’re moving on now to talking about risk control.

Risk control is where you fix up the problems that you’ve identified in the risk assessment process – which i discussed in Part 1.

When it comes to risk control, you always want to use the hierarchy of control. And when it comes to manual tasks, obviously you want to try eliminate that particular task. This can’t be done most the time as 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.

Otherwise, you could look at substituting the task with a safer option or using an engineering control which might be using a piece of equipment, for example.

The engineering controls are things that you can use to mechanically create, move or lift a particular object. Such as:

  • Lifting aids
  • Forklifts
  • Vaccum 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.

Moving down the list on the hierarchy of controls, you can look at administrative controls. Administrative controls are things like thinking about task rotation (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 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.

Finally, PPE for manual tasks is not really an option. The one thing that people have tried in the past is back braces and back braces have been shown to be not particularly effective either.

So you can see when we’re talking about the hierarchy of control for manual tasks, it is really important that we get as many things up the to – using engineering controls where we possibly can, and not relying too heavily on administrative controls.

Reviewing Manual Tasks Risks:

When it comes to reviewing our manual tasks risks, there’s the usual processes that you would go through, such as using your safety committee. But one particular risk review option to consider when it comes to manual tasks is doing 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.

You might give someone a discomfort survey before you implement your risk controls or you might do it a few weeks or a few months afterwards. When looking at the results, you can sometimes see a real change in how uncomfortable workers are with performing these hazardous manual tasks.

Okay, so there we go, guys, that’s some risk control options for manual tasks.


  1. Use MSD Risk Factors to identify the hazards
  2. Use specific risk assessment tools
  3. Control using the hierarchy
  4. Consider alternative ways to review results (such as discomfort surveys)

Watch Part 1 of Manual Tasks in the workplace.