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6 Tips for Manual Handling

Jordyn Aitken

Hello! My name is Jordyn Aitken, and I am part of Alltech’s health and safety team. I have been with Alltech for six years, originally starting my career in Europe, and I am currently based in New Zealand as the manager for the environment, health and safety in the Asia-Pacific region.

Originally, I come from a rural town in North Waikato, and I am passionate about all things equine and farming. Whilst I did not grow up on my own farm, I was fortunate to spend much of my youth on other people’s farms, milking cows, learning about the industry and working with racehorses. These experiences really fostered my love of agriculture and made me interested in working in the industry.

I am also passionate about helping people be as healthy and safe as possible both while they strive to make a living and when they come home to their families at the end of each day.

Manual handling is a key hazard on-farm and is associated with an array of activities, from attaching milking cups to lifting and carrying items (animals included) to shearing, chain sawing and beyond. And while these are common, everyday actions, continuous repetitive motions — or even just one awkward movement — can cause us a world of pain.

Let’s review a few tips related to lifting and carrying things, including feed bags, hay bales, fence posts, animals — the list goes on. These are probably routine movements that many farmers do regularly and automatically, without even thinking. However, manual handling is a common cause of back pain (especially in the lower back) and injuries.

Understandably, back pain and back injuries can be debilitating. Our backs are connected to virtually all of our bodily movements in one way or another. We cannot always eliminate manual handling entirely — or even reduce it to a more manageable amount, in some cases. However, there are various actions that can help prevent injuries and pain related to manual handling, including the following:

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These are just a few tips related to lifting or carrying things, but no doubt there are plenty more activities that involve manual handling that are not mentioned here.  

WorkSafe has made some useful resources available online for more advice and guidance, including this useful fact sheet and their manual handling guidelines.