Friday, 11 September 2015 15:00

Watch your back this spring

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Sheep farmers busy with tailing/docking of lambs are being urged to take extra care of their backs.

“With spring comes more stock handling,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe’s agriculture programme manager.

“Injuries often happen when people do routine tasks like tailing/docking over and over again. Before you or your workers start any job on the farm, stop and consider what you need to watch out for and how to get it done safely.”

In September last year, people working on farms made 600 claims qualifying for ACC funding for back injuries. In addition to injuries suffered due to tailing/docking work, other back-related injuries came from kicks or crushing by animals, slips, trips and falls, and injuries from vehicles and heavy machinery.

Mustering and penning up sheep in preparation for tailing/docking can be physically demanding, and farmers can risk back strains and knee injuries when handling.

“Before working with ewes and lambs in the yards, it’s a good idea to leave them to settle. Avoid lifting adult sheep if you can and when you do have to, use your legs, not your back,” says McCone.

Using two-wheel motorbikes and quad-bikes during mustering also has its risks, he says. “We know when mustering that most of the rider’s attention is on the sheep - so it’s good to remind ourselves that we need to stay focused.

“Use the right vehicle for the job. Two-wheel motorbikes and quad-bikes need our full attention to balance and control. In some situations, like difficult terrain or where the rider is inexperienced, it may be safer to use the quad or motorbike to get to the paddock, then get off and muster on foot. In all cases, it is good practice to work your dogs from a stationary two-wheeler or quad.”

For more information on staying safe on farms, go to www.saferfarms.org.nz.

 

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