Welcome to the Office Safety tool, previously called the Virtual Office. As well as a new name, we have updated the site's navigation and content.

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Shelving

Most offices will have shelving of some sort, whether it be in cupboards or free standing. Quite often the top shelf is above head height.

Tips

  • Avoid overloading shelves.
  • Don’t climb shelves to reach the top.
  • Ensure heavy items are accessible.

Potential harm

  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Hit by an object
  • Musculoskeletal disorders

Identified hazards and controls

Free standing shelves

Cause

  • Reaching above the head or climbing on lower shelves to reach documents stored on the upper shelf.
  • Shelving is unstable.
  • Shelves tip over, often because items are incorrectly stored or heavy items are placed on the upper shelves.
  • Lifting heavy items using an incorrect technique.

What workers can do

  • Use a step stool or ladder to reach higher objects out of reach.
  • Use a proper lifting technique when retrieving items from low shelves. Get help if the item is heavy.
  • Don’t stack items on top of others where people are not able to see the stacked item.
  • If the shelves are bowing or bending in the middle, they probably already have too much weight on them so don’t add any more.

What employers can do

  • Secure freestanding shelving to a wall to prevent toppling over.
  • Limit the height of freestanding shelving bays to allow the worker to reach the top shelf while standing normally.
  • Label shelves to identify heavier items that should be placed at a height that minimises the demands of manual handling, between knee and knuckle height.
  • Supply fit-for-purpose equipment suited to the actual task being performed.
  • Decide if a lifting device needs to be provided.

More information

Guidance

Legislation

Codes

Page last reviewed: 15 December 2019

Comcare (Office Safety tool)
GPO Box 9905, Canberra, ACT 2601
1300 366 979 | www.comcare.gov.au

Date printed 29 Jun 2022

https://www.comcare.gov.au/office-safety-tool/spaces/storage-equipment/shelving