PrePlant & PreHarvest CabChart™ Programs
Long-duration machinery operators experience a range of neck and low back pain. There has been research undertaken in a variety of occupations, and four factors were found to coincide;
- Prolonged sitting
- Operating in/on a vibrating machine
- Sitting in a bent or rotated position
- Fatigue management
Each factor by itself is detrimental to the human spine, but combined together, they accelerate degenerative changes in our spine.
After moving to Esperance and working as a physiotherapist with farmers, it soon became obvious that farming produces a broad range of injuries, some of sudden onset and a lot through job repetition.
April 10th, 2000, The Minister for WorkCover Victoria, Mr. Bob Cameron, released a report indicating that ’farmer’ injury rates were 10 times the previously thought levels as assessed by workers' compensation data. This was attributed to farmers being self-employed and not able to access the workers' compensation system. The survey indicated that farmers in the Murray Plains Division of General Practitioners were being injured at a rate of 2 per day.
In 2004 farmers represented 5% of the total workforce yet represented just fewer than 50% of the fatalities in the total workforce, including dangerous professions like police, mining & forestry. The vast majority of these fatalities were tractor-related accidents from Victorian WorkCover data.
To initiate a preventative injury program for farmers, two commonly heard provisos needed to be addressed;
“I don’t know what I should be doing” and “I don’t have the time to do exercise!”
Farmers, like other occupational groups, work in an environment of prolonged sitting. "The data suggest a causal link between back disorders and both driving occupation and whole-body vibration... Elevated risks are consistently observed after 5 years of exposure."^^ During seeding and harvest time farmers often cover between 5000 and 15000 acres, often several times. Speeds can vary from 10 to 30 km/h and paddock conditions can be very rough. The roughness is accentuated when towing any tillage or trailed equipment. Hours of work are usually 14-16 hours a day and continue for 4- 6 weeks, at seeding and harvest.
In addition to their prolonged seated positions, the seat is vibrating due to engine function and ground topography.
"The balance of the evidence indicates that...heavy equipment used in mining, tractors, & combines...typically exposes their operators to vibration levels in excess of those recommended by ISO2631.
“Epidemiological studies of the association between back disorders and vehicle operation jobs with vibration exposure, show overwhelming evidence of a relationship that is consistent and strong, increases with increasing exposure ... and is biologically plausible."^^
While sitting and working tillage equipment the driver is predominately rotated to the right. While operating a harvester the operator is predominately leaning forward, observing the harvester drum under their feet.
"Sustained postures are also associated with back disorders... Experimental studies suggest that sitting and rotated postures serve to increase vibration transmission, suggesting the two factors may interact."^^
^^ April 14th, 1999 Whole Body Vibration and Back Disorders among Motor Vehicle Drivers and Heavy Equipment Operators: A review of the scientific evidence.
With the greater usage of GPS, operator concentration and fatigue have become safety issues. Similar issues have been researched and addressed in other cab-related industries.
After trialling more standardised means of delivery, it was realised a unique approach was required and CabChart™ was developed (but not until after several other attempts). CabChart™ is dynamic and with the changing working conditions, we have made alterations. The CabChart™ is now in a strip layout (horizontal for the harvest & vertical for the tractor) and includes an A4 explanation sheet. Each CabChartTM package is available in brand-specific colours; yellow/green, yellow/blue, red/black, and orange/black.
CabChart™ is an adhesive decal that is placed on the window glass in the cab with pictures guiding the operator to perform specific movements. A detailed description sheet accompanies the adhesive decal, containing the same photographs, but with extra text explaining how to do each exercise correctly, plus additional information about correct posture while sitting & other important injury prevention information.
CabChart™ package options are;
Planting (Tractor/SP Spraying Operations) and Harvest (Header Operations). Each program comes with its own set of specific exercises tailored for the limited range of postures experienced during these operations.
Performing regular exercises in the cab while sitting hour after hour can help farmers to alleviate symptoms such as stiff shoulders, achy calves, sore & stiff spines, and reduced mental concentration.
This system provides concise, professional information on injury prevention without putting greater demands on farmers’ time.
Both CabChart™ packages can be posted throughout Australia using Australia Post.
With CabChart™ installed in your machinery, regular exercising can be performed in the cab while operating tractors and headers. CabChart™ provides an easy answer to the challenge of;
“I don’t know what I should be doing?” and “I don’t have the time to do exercises!”
The CabChart™ concept also led to a bespoke solution to solve ongoing neck pain complaints from crane operators at the Southern Ports - Esperance.
CabChart™ can be custom printed with company logos with a minimum of 20 packages.
PrePlant Assessment & PreHarvest Assessment
To measure is to understand. Knowledge leads to wisdom. Prevention is better than cure.
To improve our current limitations we need to first identify the limitations.
Harvest and seeding are the most challenging times on a broad-acre farm. Operators work 12+ hours for weeks on end, skillfully piloting equipment worth $500K+ and mistakes are costly in time, $$ and production lost. While machinery manuals dictate regular machinery service intervals, there are no measures or guidelines to ensure optimal operator efficiencies. What are their limitations or weak points? Hence our PrePlant Assessment & PreHarvest Assessment!
Unique, these assessments are designed from our experience of treating farmers and conducting thousands of mining pre-employment assessments. These programs measure all of the significant areas of the body that we see 'fail' under the rigours of seeding. Think neck, low back, knees, and shoulders. Sleep is critical for mental and physical recovery, so we also include the assessment of sleep quality and sleep posture in these programs.
We provide participants with a PrePlant or PreHarvest report, highlighting the following key areas;
- Cardiovascular health
- Functional mobility
- Whole-body strength
- Sleep quality & posture
Each key area is scored with a red/amber/green light, to indicate a comparison with age and gender-based normative data when available.
Each report contains a list of recommendations and if requested, we can as an additional service, develop a recovery program to move you from red to amber to green.
Remember, while the human body is amazing, it isn't magic. If you want to make a change, it will take time, so don't leave your decision too late. Ideally, book your PrePlant or PreHarvest Assessment 8 -12 weeks before the start of the season. Ring 90715055 to make your booking.
Your Ultimate Program - CabChart™ PrePlant & PreHarvest Programs
Currently the ultimate programs in preventing musculoskeletal injuries on farms, through the combination of a PrePlant Assessment & CabChartTM Tractor for seeding and PreHarvest Assessment & CabChartTM Harvester for harvest.
Need More Information?
Read about Media interest in the CabChartTM Program.
Contact Esperance Physiotherapy for the latest information about PrePlant, PreHarvest or CabChartTM.