How to reduce and prevent repetitive injuries in your manufacturing business

Injuries from repetitive tasks pose a risk to businesses and workers in the manufacturing industry. Employers can take steps to minimise risks and create safer workplaces.

Two men and one woman in a warehouse with the men carrying cardboard boxes over their heads.

Workplace injuries in the manufacturing sector

The manufacturing industry has a large number of work-related injuries, [1]  and repetitive work is a cause of many of these. Most injuries sustained by manufacturing workers are to joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons.

Preventing injuries

The first step in preventing any injury is identifying the hazards or potential hazards associated with the task, followed by completing a risk assessment. If the risks associated with hazardous manual tasks are not eliminated or minimised they can cause significant injuries.

Practical guidance on how to identify hazardous manual tasks, conducting a risk assessment and how to manage the risk of workers potentially being injured, can be found in the Safe Work Australia's Model Code of Practice: Hazardous manual tasks.

A positive and safe workplace culture makes good business sense and may help to reduce injuries. Having a safety induction, training for workers and procedures that are easy to follow are part of having a positive safety culture.

Other steps employers can take to encourage a positive and safe workplace culture include:

  • Encouraging workers to raise any safety concerns
  • Employers and managers are visible and easily accessible
  • Managers and Employers setting a positive example about appropriate workplace behaviour, for example prioritising health and safety, taking regular breaks
  • Checking in with workers regularly about how they are and showing genuine interest
  • Rewarding and recognising good safety behaviours.

Employers can also encourage and support their workers to adopt safe work practices such as:

  • maintaining good posture
  • using safe lifting techniques
  • selecting the right equipment and tools suitable for the task, and using it safely
  • taking regular breaks, especially when doing repetitive tasks
  • avoid rushing
  • regularly change positions and move around
  • report any pain or strain immediately
  • maintain fitness, and complete stretches and strength exercises
  • warm-up stretches before performing manual handling tasks, especially in cold weather.

Employers can also assess the workplace (through a risk assessment) to see if there are things that can be altered to make repetitive tasks safer, such as:

  • implement job rotation and fatigue management
  • regular review of the workload and pace of work
  • review layout of the work area
  • ergonomic work benches, adjustable chairs / stools
  • providing equipment and tools suitable for the task
  • helping to keep the temperature comfortable – our bodies are already under greater stress in cold and hot weather.

Employers are encouraged to access SafeWork NSW PErforM program: Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM), is a simple manual task risk management program for reducing musculoskeletal disorders. The program provides the framework to help employers engage with workers at all levels to identify, assess and control hazardous manual tasks within the workplace.


[1] Disease and injury statistics - Safe Work Australia