Prevent and manage risk of physical injury in transport, logistics or warehousing

How to identify physical health and safety hazards and implement effective risk management processes.

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Overview

How this helps your business

When employees feel physically safe, they enjoy their jobs more, perform better, and are more committed to their employer.

Keeping records of safety issues, the level of risk, and how your workplace is addressing them, demonstrates to your employees that you care about their safety. Keeping records also makes it easier to improve how you're managing occupational health and safety over time.

Physical injuries can often have an effect on mental health. The more support your employees have for both their physical and mental health and safety, the more likely they are to seek help for any mental health issues, and to return to work if they have a long absence.

Key stats and facts


17  

average working days off per WorkCover claim for truck drivers in Australia.

Monash University, 2018, National Transport and Logistics Industry Health and Wellbeing Study


60.2%  

of injuries in the transport safety sector in Australia are a result of musculoskeletal conditions. Over 6% higher than other industries in Australia.

Monash University, 2018, National Transport and Logistics Industry Health and Wellbeing Study


14.1%  

of all physical injury claims within the transport, postal and warehousing industry in Victoria result in a secondary mental injury.

Step 1

Learn more on this topic

Managing all health and safety risks, both physical and mental, in your workplace is key to providing a safe environment. Before an employee can feel safe at work, it is important to identify all safety risks in the workplace. Watch how Damien, a WorkSafe inspector, demonstrates how to identify the physical safety issues in your workplace, and work with your staff to solve them.

Damien encourages employers to use their previous industry experience to solve problems and to use their networks to seek advice.

The same principles that Damien talks about can be used for workplace risks to mental health.

It is important to remember that the physical and mental health risks in your workplace are closely linked and can have an impact on your employees. Find out how the importance of physical safety affects your employees' mental health and wellbeing through the WorkSafe Victoria videos below.

How to do your own inspection - Fix the problems

Hazardous manual handling - Is the work safe? Do I feel safe?

Step 2

Identify the risks

There are a number of ways to identify safety issues. Some common ones you can try are listed below:

  • observing and talking to your employees when inspecting your workplace
  • injury or safety data from organisations such as WorkSafe Victoria, employee representatives eg. unions and employer representatives eg. industry associations, manufacturers and suppliers
  • reviewing workplace and equipment ergonomics
  • testing and measuring for hazards such as noise, dust and hazardous substances including diesel exhausts. In some cases mental stress can be caused by constant noise like cabin vibrations, alarms or machinery humming
  • review manual handling processes. Manual handling such as loading and unloading is one of the industry's leading causes of both physical and mental injury
  • review fatigue management systems. The Toolkit has an action topic to help you improve management of fatigue in your workplace
  • review continuous or repetitive tasks. Repetitive actions can cause serious physical injury due to muscular overload or through a loss in concentration
  • surveys of employees and others in your workplace
  • analysing records such as the injury register, incident reports, near misses.

All risks are important in the workplace, but deciding which risks are most urgent can be identified with the help of a risk checklist like the one outlined in Step 4.

Keeping a record of injuries or near misses allows you to regularly review the risks in your workplace. You will be able to monitor trends and work on developing solutions to stop them happening again. This record of injuries can be as simple as a diary, or a more sophisticated online injury recording tool.

Use the Safety Action Plan template below to list your possible health and safety issues.

For further information on some of the common risks in the transport, logistics and warehousing industry click on the link to the safety basics below.

If people in your organisation travel interstate, requirements and regulations may change. Being aware of these differences can improve your workplace practices and reduce the likelihood of your workers being injured.

A similar approach can be taken for identifying and addressing mental health and safety issues, and there are other Toolkit pages that can support you to do this. Reducing your physical risks can also have a positive effect on your workers' mental health.

Step 3

Consult your staff

There are many ways you can talk with your employees about managing risks in your workplace, including:

  • having safety issues as an agenda item at your regular meetings. This could include 'toolbox talks', production meetings, staff meetings or any way your organisation communicates with each other
  • casually walking around your workplace with your staff
  • through your health and safety representatives
  • through your health and safety committees
  • a suggestions box
  • a safety or concern hotline
  • employee associations e.g. unions.

Step 4

Assess the risks

After you've made a list of possible safety issues, and reviewed any injuries or 'near misses' in your workplace, assess how serious the risk is and prioritise the ones that need the urgent attention. All risks are important in the workplace, but identifying which risks are most urgent can be done with the help of a risk checklist.

Risk checklist:

  • Take a close look at each risk on your list. What could happen if things go wrong?
  • Are we talking about scratches and bruises, or could someone be seriously injured or even killed?
  • Is it an everyday occurrence? Or something that only comes up now and then, giving you more time to find a solution?
  • Are there things you can do right now, as a short-term fix, while you work out a permanent solution?
  • Review the job or task and consult with your employees to understand all the risks involved (physical and mental/psychological)
  • Review loading/unloading and packing/unpacking procedures. Manual handling and physical tasks are a major cause of injury in the transport, logistics and warehousing industry.

Once you've worked out which issues have the greatest potential to cause injury or disease, or are a risk to public safety, mark them as a high priority. From there, rank the remaining risks in order from highest to lowest priority.

This list should be regularly reviewed and updated. You and your employees need to continuously monitor your workplace and make sure any new potential safety risks are immediately identified and recorded.

Step 5

Manage the risks

Once you have established a list of the most urgent safety risks, you need to start immediately on the most important step of all – fixing the problems.

Once you've put a solution in place, remember to check back to see whether it's working as intended. Set yourself a date for this review with a reminder.

Remember, you can take the same approach for risks to mental health. As you use the Toolkit we'll give you more tools to identify these and steps you can take to protect your employees.

Fix the problems

  • Your first aim should be to totally remove the problem.
    For example, if the issue is a hazardous chemical, try to find a safe alternative to the chemical. If there is a slipping or tripping hazard in your workplace, see if it can be removed. If a task is dangerous, look for different ways to complete the task.
  • If it's not possible to totally remove a hazard, you need to find ways to control it. You might have to change the way certain jobs are done, change work procedures, or perhaps give employees protective equipment.
  • You'll often find there are simple solutions to many of the risks in your workplace. Most of them will be low cost, and some will cost nothing at all. Of course, sometimes there are no simple solutions.
  • Check WorkSafe Victoria's publications, alerts and guidance notes for your industry/topic and see if there's a solution to the problem.
  • Get help from associations or groups that are related to your particular industry. They might have come across a similar problem before and found a way to fix it.
  • Talk to other people in your industry to see how they've handled similar problems.

Watch the 2 minute video below about The Reece Group. Manual handling risks were identified in their warehouse, and a system was developed that greatly reduced musculoskeletal injuries.

Step 6

Review and keep improving

Once you have put processes in place to manage risks to physical health and safety, you need to review them regularly to ensure they are working as planned. WorkSafe Victoria has information to assist you to make long term, sustainable improvements to safety in your workplace. Use the resource below to regularly review your workplace risks.

The WorkSafe advisory service is the first point of contact for your workplace if you are concerned or require further information on managing risks in the workplace.

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options

More information

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