Farmers are Unique Athletes
A repetitive strain injury is not something that only affects office workers- it also affects hundred of farmers who sit in the cab of their header or tractor for hours a day during seeding and harvest time.
Repeating the same movement or maintaining the same posture for long periods of time means that the same muscles and joints are working while others are not. While faced with many similar problems to ‘townies’ farmers are unique.
For example, in the general population, the dominant shoulder usually develops rotator cuff tendon problems, yet in the broadacre farming community, our observation is that the left shoulder often fails first. Our thought is that the left-handed position at 12 o’clock while working tillage, seeding & other machinery places the tendons in what is professionally called the ‘impingement position’ subjecting the tendon to a greater load. Over time, this wears the tendon to the point of failure. Our preventative solution is for the left hand to hold the wheel at 8 o’clock and regularly change to the right hand at 4 o’clock. This means farmers need specific prevention programs.
Other problems are seen with long periods of sitting. The average person sits 8 hours a day (work, recreation & entertainment). When putting in and taking off the crop, farmers are sitting 14-18 hours a day. Generally, as farms are getting bigger there is a greater reliance on machinery for increased productivity and therefore greater periods of sitting. The posture of sitting works a limited range of muscles so that these fatigue quickly. Sitting in a twisted position or forward bent position accentuates the load on the spine. The constant exposure to machinery vibration weakens bone and tendon structure. The tedium of following a foam blob, disc line, or GPS over several hours sends the brain into a recluse as mental arousal drops. With the increased hours sitting farmers are finding their aches and pains niggle more consistently and some have fallen asleep at the wheel! There is also an opportunity cost to prolonged sitting. More sitting means less physical activity.
Are you Physically ready for Seeding and Harvest this Year?
Fact: It would be considered a poor farmer that didn't service his/her machinery on a regular basis. True!
So what about the machinery operator? Are they 'serviced' and ready for the peak seasons of Seeding and Harvest?
Our experience would tend to say not. So, to assist farmers in the preparation for Seeding & Harvest we have designed two programs and called them PrePlant and PreHarvest. Each program includes our unique CabChart decal (see below) and one on one assessment with our Physiotherapists (includes cardio, strength, flexibility and sleep assessments) and a customised home program to address the problems detected from your assessment. To be realistic, you need to undertake this assessment 6-8 weeks before you start seeding and harvest to enable your body to adapt to the new training program.
Introducing CabChart™ - A multifunctional tool for farmers
CabChart™ can be thought of as a tool for the owner-operator. For the employee, CabChart™ provides answers to statements such as “I don’t have the time” and “I don’t know what to do”.
For the employer, by providing a CabChart™ you are addressing your duty of care in providing a safer work environment for your employees.
Displaying the CabChart™ provides a means by which employees can positively take responsibility to look after their own health & well-being. Investing time and effort into the operator of big and expensive machinery will help to ensure its safe and correct operation.