Preventing manual handling injuries - fact sheet
The most common result of manual handling incidents is injuries and pain in the lower back. According to ACC data, about 20% of farm related accidents are caused by manual handling. Manual handling is also one of many inter-related risks for acute low back pain.
- Workers must be trained in correct techniques for manual handling jobs.
- No one should lift something that is too heavy for them.
- Lift with the legs, not the back.
- (Re)design the workplace to minimise manual handling risks.
- Use mechanical/lifting aids where possible.
- Plan regular breaks and rotate jobs.
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This fact sheet identifies the dangers and risks from manual handling in farming and offers recommendations to help avoid accidents and injuries. They will help you comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA).
Farm workers do a wide variety of manual handling tasks. They involve forceful efforts, repetitive movements, stooping, static and awkward postures, continual bending, twisting at the waist and handling heavy objects.
Manual handling can harm your musculoskeletal system (your bones and muscles) slowly, so the injury gets worse over time (a chronic injury). Manual handling accidents can also cause immediately-felt (acute) injuries, like cuts or broken bones.
Accepted good practice
Train workers how to use plant, objects, substances, equipment, and relevant PPE safely. In general, farmers need to give new workers an induction – show them around the farm and tell them about risks and safety procedures and identify what skills, knowledge or competencies workers need to complete each task.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s work health and safety law. The Act requires that a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers. The duties of a PCBU apply to all work activities and places work is carried out on a farm.
Health and safety legal requirements
The primary duties of a PCBU include:
- providing and maintaining a safe work environment, safe plant and structures and safe systems of work
- providing any information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect everyone from the health and safety risks at work.
- take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that their actions or inactions do not harm the health and safety of others
- co-operate with any reasonable health and safety policy or procedure of the PCBU notified to them and comply with any reasonable instruction given by the PBCU (eg using personal protective equipment).
Table of risks
|Lifting and moving objects on the farm||
|Overreaching or handling with the arms outstretched||
|Whole body vibration||
|Poor workplace design||