Hazardous: Workplace Health and Safety - Health Assessment Answers

August 22, 2017
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Question: Health Assignment

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  1. Introduction

Most jobs involve carrying out some type of manual task using the body to move or hold an object, people or animals. Manual tasks cover a wide range of activities including stacking shelves, working on a conveyor line and entering data into a computer.

Some manual tasks are hazardous and may cause musculoskeletal disorders. These are the most common workplace injuries across Australia.

1.1 What is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD)?

A musculoskeletal disorder, as defined in the WHS Regulations, means an injury to, or a disease of, the musculoskeletal system, whether occurring suddenly or over time. It does not include an injury caused by crushing, entrapment (such as fractures and dislocations) or cutting resulting from the mechanical operation of plant.

MSDs may include conditions such as:

  • sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • back injuries, including damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, nerves, joints and bones
  • joint and bone injuries or degeneration, including injuries to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle, hands and feet
  • nerve injuries or compression (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • muscular and vascular disorders as a result of hand-arm vibration
  • soft tissue hernias
  • chronic pain.

MSDs occur in two ways:

  • gradual wear and tear to joints, ligaments, muscles and inter-vertebral discs caused by repeated or continuous use of the same body parts, including static body positions
  • sudden damage caused by strenuous activity, or unexpected movements such as when loads being handled move or change position suddenly.

Injuries can also occur due to a combination of these mechanisms, for example, body tissue that has been weakened by cumulative damage may be vulnerable to sudden injury by lower forces.

1.2 What is a hazardous manual task?

A hazardous manual task, as defined in the WHS Regulations, means a task that requires a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any person, animal or thing involving one or more of the following:

  • repetitive or sustained force
  • high or sudden force
  • repetitive movement
  • sustained or awkward posture
  • exposure to vibration.

These factors (known as characteristics of a hazardous manual task) directly stress the body and can lead to injury.

1.3 Who has health and safety duties in relation tohazardous manual tasks?

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 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.

1.4 What is required to manage the risk ofmusculoskeletal disorders?

Regulation 60: A person conducting a business or undertaking must manage risks to health and safety relating to a musculoskeletal disorder associated with a hazardous manual task.

Regulation 34-38: In order to manage risk under the WHS Regulations, a duty holder must:

  • identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to the risk
  • eliminate the risk so far as is reasonably practicable
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk – minimise the risk so far as is reasonably practicable by implementing control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control
  • maintain the implemented control measure so that it remains effective
  • review, and if necessary revise, risk control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.

This Code provides guidance on how to manage the risks associated with those manual tasks that have the potential to cause MSDs by following a systematic process that involves:

  • identifying manual tasks that are hazardous
  • if necessary, assessing the risks of MSDs associated with the hazardous manual task
  • implementing suitable risk control measures
  • reviewing the effectiveness of control measures.

A summary of this process in relation to manual tasks is at Appendix A. Guidance on the general risk management process is available in the Code of Practice: How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks.

Consulting your workers

Section 47: The person conducting the business or undertaking must consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for the business or undertaking who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a work health and safety matter.

Section 48: If the workers are represented by a health and safety representative, the consultation must involve that representative.

Consultation involves sharing of information, giving workers a reasonable opportunity to express views and taking those views into account before making decisions on health and safety matters.

Consultation with workers and their health and safety representatives is necessary at each step of the risk management process. Your workers know which tools and activities contribute to their discomfort and may have practical suggestions or potential solutions.

It is important to consult your workers as early as possible when planning to:

  • introduce new tasks or change existing tasks
  • select new equipment
  • refurbish, renovate or redesign existing workplaces
  • carry out work in new environments.

You should also encourage your workers to report problems with manual tasks and signs of discomfort immediately so that risks can be managed before an injury occurs.

Consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating activities with other duty holders

Section 46: If more than one person has a duty in relation to the same matter, each person with the duty must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with all other persons who have a work health or safety duty in relation to the same matter.

Sometimes you may share responsibility for a health and safety matter with other business operators who are involved in the same activities or who share the same workplace. In these situations, you must exchange information to find out who is doing what and work together in a co- operative and co-ordinated way so that all risks are eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

For example, if a supplier visits your workplace to deliver goods, you should discuss with the supplier how the goods will be handled at your workplace, whether there are any environmental or other factors that may increase the risk (for example, using a flight of stairs while handling large boxes) and what you each will do to control any risk of injury.

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  • 1.0 Introduction

A workplace is the actual physical space where a person undertakes their routine job-related tasks (Marsick & Watkins, 2015). Beus, McCord and Zohar (2016) agree that every workplace has associated health and safety issues that arise due to the nature of tasks involved and materials and equipment used.

The workplace under audit and inspection is Barefoot Barista; a coffee and bites restaurant in Palm Beach Avenue Queensland. The restaurant serves delicious coffee and snacks, sells seasonal coffee beans and conducts barista workshops. It is owned by a married couple who are both seasoned professionals in culinary arts. The work conducted in the restaurant involves mainly kitchen and service work, although there is also some considerable amount of work that is carried out in the stores. Specifically, the main tasks include preparing snacks and beverages, serving customers, offloading supplies to the store, cleaning and daily maintenance and organising foods stored in the refrigerators. As such, there is a lot of work at the restaurant that requires physical endurance from the workers. The owners who operate the restaurant have employed a number of staff who assist them in delivering the objectives. The people employed are mostly permanent, although the owners hire casual staff in high demand seasons. Work begins at 4am as the restaurant opens at 5am and closes at 4pm meaning staff leave a little later after 5pm. All the employees at the restaurant are shift workers. Most of the employees are young and middle-aged people.

The foods and accommodation industry generally ranks among the industries with the highest cases of workplace injuries. Most injuries in the industry result from tasks that involve pushing, pulling, lifting and bending of objects. Other injuries like those resulting from heat stress and falls are equally common, but they are more dependent on the specific style setting of the work and service area. The industry also reports, health and safety issues such as infections that result from handling of raw meat or contact with infected customers (World Health Organization, 2013). The WHS regulations applicable in the elimination or reduction of risk occurrence in these workplaces include those that oblige the person conducting business or undertaking (PCBU) to take preventive measures as far as it can be reasonably practicable, to eliminate or minimise sources of risks. WHS Reg. 34 mandates a duty holder the responsibility of identifying risks as far as is reasonably practicable. WHS Reg. 35, 36, 37 and 38 require the duty holder to manage risks, create a hierarchy of measures and maintain and review control measures. WHS Reg. 40 specifies that it is the responsibility of PCBU to ensure that the work conditions provided to the workers are safe and do not pose any risks to their health and safety. Regulation 41 of the WHS Regulation requires PCBU to provide and maintain safe adequate and accessible facilities.

  • 2.0 Industry research

The food and service industry is characterised by numerous workplace health and safety issues. The nature and pace of the work create many risk factors that expose workers to substantial hazards at the workplace. Typical hazards in a general restaurant workplace include burns from kitchen fires, slips and falls from slippery floors, ischemia resulting from continuous operation in refrigerator-cold conditions, cuts, manual handling and heat stress among others ("Home - Health and Safety Authority", 2016). A survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated a significant connection between shift work and work related injuries. The survey found that work related injuries among shift workers was 114 injuries/ 1000 workers while that of their non-shift counterparts was 60 injuries/ 100 workers; a figure almost half ("The impact of shift work on work-related injuries in Australia - Safe Work Australia", 2016). Another survey still by ABS found that injuries resulting from cuts by knives and similar tools were higher compared to injuries from any other source; even higher than those resulting from falls and fires. The foods and accommodation industry in general reported an average of 65 injuries per 1000 workers. The highest in this category was the construction industry with nearly 100 injuries per 1000 workers. Matthews et al (2015) has found that injuries resulting from pushing, pulling, lifting and bending are the most common across all industries. A 2014 survey by ABS showed that 97% of injuries at the workplace in the broad industry were at least reported to someone. The same survey showed that at least 47% of all injuries resulted in workers missing one shift or day from work. However, the results indicated less than 1% of fatalities from total injuries in the industry in general.

From these statistics, we can see that the foods and accommodation industry indicates a high level of workplace health and safety hazards. The less obvious hazards such as contamination from infected foods are normally overlooked in favour of the more obvious ones like kitchen fires and slips. The statistics also show that the industry’s rate of risk occurrence is almost the highest coming just below manufacturing and construction industries. The most notorious mechanisms through which these hazards occur are mainly manual handling and ergonomic hazards. In the workplace, hazards such as fires could result from either electrical faults or open kitchen fires. The impacts caused by the hazards vary greatly – some cause minor soft tissue injuries while others may cause more serious physical injuries such as severe burns and long term back pains. However, we note that, although the rate of hazard occurrence is relatively high compared to other industries, they are mostly not fatal. For hazards with immediate impacts, their severity is mostly determined by how long the worker will have to stay away from work as a result of its occurrence. The broad industry generally shows satisfactory levels of compliance by persons conducting business or undertakings. The workplace under audit inspection showed compliance with duties of persons as well as other interventions to promote workplace health and safety. Therefore, it indicated a good level of compliance with the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 as well as the H&S regulations.

  • 3.0 Social factors

Social factors can have a significant influence on the operations at a workplace. More specifically, social factors can determine the working relationships, terms of contract, the demand for service delivery and organisation structures (Shaw et al, 2013). The workplace under audit is owned by a couple. The workplace is managed by several supervisors, although the owning couple still remains in overall control of matters. There is high demand for service, especially in the morning hours as the restaurant is famed mostly for its breakfast treats. This is a typical characteristic evident across the industry. The industry is also very competitive and proprietors must make extra effort to entice customers. Competition can arise from the style or thematic inclinations, or types of food served or the experience offered. There are many players in the industry, offering near-similar products ranging from those offering sit-in meals and beverages to those offering packed only meals. We noted that the workplace has also diversified to offer barista workshops as well as sell seasonal coffee beans. These extra undertakings increase health and safety risk factors as well. The restaurant has formal human resource management structure, but not health and safety structures. They follow the industry practice in sourcing of human resources which is characterised by a balancing of both casual and permanent staff. Health and safety at the workplace is also regulated by industry standards as well as state and national regulations where applicable. Different government departments participate in the regulation of different operations in the industry, which also apply to the workplace. There is a national union to which the workers can join, although this applies to workers under permanent employment terms only.

As indicated before, the restaurant employs some workers on a permanent employment basis while others are hired as casual staff in seasons with increased demand. All the staff, except a few who are under administration affairs, work in shifts as they operate for nearly 16 hours daily. Workers are assigned to either the pre-dawn or midday shift. The remaining few who are under administrative affairs work on a regular 8-5 schedule. All the workers at the restaurant are aged between 24 and 36 years, except the owning couple who are a bit older. Although younger workers, aged below 24, normally report more injuries during the first six months of work, this age group generally has high rates of workplace injuries (Beus, Dhanani & McCord, 2015). Customers visiting the workplace are mostly older people, although they have a few middle-aged loyal customers. Older people are known to be at increased risk of certain hazards such as those resulting from falls (Wiatrowski, 2013). Most of these customers are easy-going and as such, do not necessarily put a lot of pressure on service delivery that may stretch the capacity of workers. Despite the nature of customers, there is still internal pressure to deliver quality and timely services in order to remain competitive in the foods and accommodation market. For this reason, the pace of work at the workplace is fast all year round. The main work related tasks at the workplace are food preparation and service as well as maintenance of the space and facilities. Specific major tasks include preparing dishes, cutting meat and other raw foods, organising foods in the refrigerator, and cleaning dishes, surfaces and the facility itself. Another minor, but frequent tasks are pushing food carts, racking and unpacking goods. There are also the regular decoration, maintenance tasks of a typical restaurant. Nearly all of these tasks require sustained levels of physical endurance.

  • 4.0 Inspection Results – Summary of Duties and Overall Compliance & Consultative Arrangements

Observations made at the workplace indicated reasonable levels of existence of workplace health and safety interventions. PCBU demonstrated a high level of awareness and adherence to workplace health and safety regulations. The workers also showed reasonable effort in taking care of their health and safety, and that of others, by generally following common Safe Practice Code of Conduct. Such adherence will normally be a positive indicator of general compliance to set safety regulations (de Oliveira et al, 2013).


The primary duty of care in the workplace belongs to PCBU

Duties Person with duties Legislative sections Evidence of compliance / noncompliance
Identification of potential hazards PCBU, Area supervisors Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice Section 2 Good compliance: most hazards were comprehensively identified
Provision of adequate facilities for workers PCBU WHS Reg. 41 Good compliance: necessary facilities to promote workers' safety provided
Provision of safe and risk free environment PCBU WHS Reg. 41 Good compliance: a safe working environment was provided
Ensuring acts or omissions do not adversely affect health and safety Workers WHS Act, S. 21 Good compliance: workers well aware of their responsibility for their safety and that of others
Ensuring that there are safe exits and entries into and out of the workplace PCBU WHS Act, S. 20 (2) Good compliance: clear, safe exits and entry points exist

The state of the OHS system for hazard identification and control measures' establishment, maintenance and control

Criteria Set WHS Regulation Finding
Establishment of hazard control measures Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice Section 2 Moderate compliance: hazard control measures identified, though no clear hierarchy of controls defined.
Maintenance by identifying risk control measures WHS Reg. 37 Poor compliance: Identified control measures are sustainable only in the short term.
Reviewing of identifying control measures WHS Reg. 38 Moderate compliance: identified control measures are constantly reviewed so that they adapt to present hazards
Prior identification of hazards Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice Section 2 Good compliance: PCBU and supervisors have clearly identified potential hazards
Elimination of risk factors where possible; where not, minimisation to as low as practically possible WHS Reg. 35 Moderate compliance: measures to eliminate risks in place. Good effort to manage inherent, unavoidable risks as well

Consultative arrangements

Consultative role Legislative sections Evidence meeting consultative Provisions
On-demand H&S briefings for the team WHS Act s. 23 H&S briefing to all staff every Monday noon
One-on-one H&S talks WHS Act s. 21 Whenever a hazard is evident supervisor notifies persons likely to be affected
Consultation on particular health considerations WHS Act s. 21 PCBU consults with workers about any special health conditions/consideration
Regular scheduled meetings WHS Act s. 21 H&S meetings are held at regular intervals

  • Inspection Results – Hazards, Risk and Controls

Hazard identification

Hazard Ref. No. Task Hazard associated with the task Legislative section relevant to Hazard
H1 Handling various cooking machines in the hot kitchen Heat stress, burns WHS Reg. 40 (f) Duty in relation to general workplace conditions
H2 Working on wet kitchen floors Falls WHS Reg. 35 Management of risk of fall
H3 Working with microwaves Non-ionising radiation WHS Reg. 40 Duty in relation to general working conditions
H4 Lifting, pushing, pulling objects Manual handling Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice


Risk identification register


Ref. No.

Risk Factors Outcome of Exposure Who may be affected Person responsible Risk Ref. No.
H1 Hot equipment Soft-tissue injury, burns Chefs Chefs, kitchen supervisor R1
H2 Wet floors Bone injury Waiters Waiters, service area supervisor R2
H3 Microwave radiation Internal burns, tissue necrosis Chefs, waiters Chefs, waiters R3
H4 Heavy objects, repetitive tasks Back pains, sprains Waiters, store operators PCBU R4

Risk assessment


Ref. No.

Estimated Likelihood Estimated Consequences Risk rating
R1 High Major to minor burns High
R2 High Broken bones Medium
R3 Low Cell injury Low
R4 High Long term back problems High

Risk calculation

The weight of the risk shall be calculated as follows:

Risk exposure = likelihood x impact, where;

For both likelihood and impact, 1 = “Lowest”, 5 = “highest”


Ref. No.

Likelihood Impact Risk result Risk exposure
R1 4/5 5/5 20/25 80%
R2 4/5 4/5 16/25 64%
R3 1/5 3/5 3/25 12%
R4 5/5 3/5 15/25 60%

Risk control


Ref. No.

Legislative Requirements
R1 WHS Reg. 40 (f) requires that PCBU ensures that workers carrying out tasks in extremes of heat or cold do so without risk of injury
R2 WHS Reg. 41 Requires that PCBU ensure that the facilities provided are adequate to promote workers' health and safety; and that they do not pose a risk to their health and safety
R3 WHS Reg. 40 requires PCBU to ensure that the general working conditions do not pose a risk to the health and safety of workers
R4 Hazardous Manual Tasks Code of Practice section 1.3


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