The purpose of this policy is to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders associated with ergonomic arrangements and work design in schools.


  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act 2004 (Vic)External Link requires the department to provide or maintain systems of work and a working environment that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health.
  • The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the health and safety representatives and employees, must identify and assess risk factors in work design that contribute to musculoskeletal disorders work related injuries.
  • The principal and/or their delegate must control any risks associated with work design, workstation set up and operation.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS advisory service and local OHS regional officers who can provide free advice on managing risks related to ergonomics.
  • The Ergonomics and Workspace Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This policy forms part of the department’s OHS management system, refer to OHS Management System (OHSMS) Overview for further information.


The principal and/or their delegate in consultation with the health and safety representatives and employees must:

  • ensure that ergonomic hazards relating to poor design of tools, equipment, workstation or work practices are identified and recorded on the OHS Risk RegisterExternal Link
  • ensure that identified ergonomic hazards are assessed for risk. The following templates may assist schools to assess the ergonomic risk:
  • establish and implement controls to eliminate or reduce the identified ergonomic or workspace risk in the OHS risk register and or relevant template
  • ensure that all employees have been provided with adequate equipment for tasks undertaken
  • ensure that employees have been provided with relevant information, instruction and/or training in the use of equipment and work practices
  • ensure that completed training is added to the OHS Training Planner/RegisterExternal Link or equivalent
  • review the controls implemented to ensure their effectiveness in managing the risk, and incorporate any changes to controls on the OHS risk register
  • maintain records of the identification and assessment of ergonomic hazards


The process of designing and/or modifying tools, materials, equipment, plant, work spaces, tasks, jobs, products, systems and environments to match the physical and mental capabilities and limitations of users, including those with special needs and those returning to work following injury or illness. It also involves cognitive processes such as perception, memory, reasoning, decision making and motor response.

Ergonomic hazard
An ergonomic hazard is a physical or psychosocial factor in a work system or work environment that can cause biomechanical stress and damage to the human musculoskeletal system. Ergonomic hazards include examples such as repetitive movement, manual handling, workplace / job / task design, uncomfortable workstation set up and poor body positioning.

Musculoskeletal disorder
An injury or illness that affects muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage or spinal discs.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on reducing risk of musculoskeletal disorders associated with ergonomic arrangements and work design in schools

Reviewed 29 April 2022

Policy last updated

15 June 2020


  • Schools
  • School councils


OHS Advisory Service

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