High and Low Job Demands

High and low job demands are some of the most common psychosocial hazards. They can also lead to physical injury, with high job demands sometimes leading to workers rushing tasks or low job demands leading to inattentiveness, which can be fatal on some high risk jobs. As with all hazards, your employer must consult HSRs when implementing control measures to reduce the hazard. 

For action plans on how your employer should address high and low job demands, see WorkSafe's advice on the topic here

For additional information on high and low job demands, see Safe Work Australia's topic page.

Remember, OHS is state based legislation, so Safe Work Australia's advice does not carry legal weight but forms part of the state of knowledge and is still useful.

High job demands means employers are requiring high levels of physical, mental or emotional effort to do the job. It means more than sometimes ‘being a little busy’. High job demands become a hazard when severe, prolonged, or frequent. Low job demands means sustained low levels of physical, mental or emotional effort are needed to do the job. It is more than just having an occasional slow afternoon. Low job demands become a hazard when it is severe, prolonged or frequent.

High and low job demands could include the following: 

High Job Demands Low Job Demands

Long work hours

Too little to do

High workloads, for example, too much to do, fast work pace or significant time pressure

Highly repetitive or monotonous tasks which require low levels of thought processing and little variety, for example, picking and packing products, monitoring production lines

Long periods of attention looking for infrequent events, for example, air traffic controllers, during long distance driving, security monitoring

Regularly undertaking tasks that are well below capabilities, too easy

Emotional effort in responding to distressing situations or distressed or aggressive clients, for example, paramedics dealing with difficult patients or situations

Long idle periods, particularly if workers cannot do other tasks (e.g. while waiting for necessary tools)

Emotional effort required to display emotions the organisation requires when the emotions do not align with those of the employee

Workers cannot maintain their skills (e.g. not enough role specific tasks to keep competencies). 

Exposure to traumatic events or work-related violence, for example, emergency employees


Shift work leading to higher risk of fatigue


Frequently working in unpleasant or hazardous conditions. For example, extreme temperatures or noise, around hazardous chemicals or dangerous equipment


Having to perform demanding work while wearing uncomfortable protective clothing or equipment


Working with clients with challenging behaviours


Not having the right skills or training for the task (e.g. junior workers given complex tasks), or 


Not having systems to prevent individual errors, particularly when they may have high consequences (e.g. expecting workers to memorise complex processes and not providing written prompts).