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In farming jobs, back, neck and limb disorders are the most common types of ill health. Around 80% of the people who work in the industry will suffer the effects of these disorders and some are permanently disabled. Many of the injuries are caused or made worse by poor manual handling practice. They can arise from stresses and strains over a period of time rather than from a single event.

What is Manual Handling?

Manual handling includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying, moving or supporting a load by hand or bodily force. Injuries are not only caused by the weight of the objects you handle. It is not just the weight that you should be careful about. You should also look out for

  • the size, shape and available grip;
  • the way you carry a load and where you have to move it from and to;
  • how often you have to do the job.

How to Avoid an Accident

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers and the self- employed to assess risks to health and safety. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) complement these Regulations. If you have to manually handle a load as part of your job you should

  • avoid the job if it is reasonably practicable to do so;
  • assess the operations that cannot be avoided;
  • take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury. Where possible, provide mechanical assistance such as handling aids. Where this is not reasonably practicable then explore changes to the task, the load and the working environment;
  • provide employees with general indications of the weight and nature of the load to be handled.

Risks That Should Be Assessed If Manual Handling Is Required

Does the job involve one or more of these risk factors:

  • handling loads at a distance from the trunk?
  • twisting?
  • stooping or reaching upwards?
  • excessive lifting, lowering or carrying distances?
  • excessive pushing or pulling force?
  • positioning the load precisely?
  • risk of sudden movement of loads?
  • frequent or prolonged physical effort?
  • insufficient rest or recovery periods?
  • handling while seated?
  • team handling
  • intensive work, tight deadlines and lack of control over the work and working methods?

Is the load: 

  • heavy, bulky or unwieldy?
  • difficult to grasp?
  • live, unstable, or with contents likely to move?
  • sharp or hot?

Where the handling is done, are there:

  • space constraints preventing good posture?
  • uneven, slippery or unstable floors?
  • variations in level of floors or work surfaces?
  • extremes of temperature or humidity?
  • conditions causing ventilation problems or gusts of wind?
  • poor lighting conditions?

Consider the people involved. Does the job:

  • require unusual strength, height etc?
  • involve special risks for pregnant staff or anyone with a health problem?
  • require special information or training?
  • conflict with personal protective equipment or other clothing?

Good Handling Technique

Sometimes there is just no avoiding the fact that you have to manually handle a load. Sometimes the other methods will be unsafe or unavailable. This advice is relevant to a lift using both hands that takes place in front of and close to the body:

  • Stop and think. Plan the lift. Use handling aids. Remove obstructions.
  • Keep the load close to the waist.
  • Adopt a stable position.
  • Ensure a good hold on the load.
  • Bend the back, hips and knees slightly at the start of the lift. This is preferable to either fully flexing the back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees (full/deep squatting).
  • Don’t flex the back any further when lifting.
  • Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways.
  • Keep the head up when handling.
  • Move smoothly.
  • Don’t lift or handle more than can be easily managed.
  • Put down, then adjust.

Manual handling injury lawyers

If you have suffered a manual handling injury on a farm which was not your fault, then you may be able to make a compensation claim. The personal injury lawyers at Thompsons can advise you on the best way to proceed. Contact us today on 0800 0891 331.

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