Taking OH & S to New Safe Levels
In an Australian first, New Holland has joined forces with a West Australian physiotherapist to improve the health and safety of Australian farmers. Physiotherapist Doug Cary has developed CabChart, a system of easy to perform exercises to reduce neck, back, and shoulder pain - the most common complaints amongst Australian farmers. The CabChart exercises, which can be performed in the tractor or harvester cabin, are outlined on an easy-to-read decal which will be included in the cabin of selected new New Holland tractors sold from August this year.
“We’re really excited about bringing CabChart to Australian farmers – particularly with the harvest season ahead which is a peak time for farmers to suffer injury or aggravate preexisting injuries,” said New Holland product manager Simon Vigour. “The system will also help farmers to improve their on-farm OH&S, particularly as OH&S laws are becoming increasingly stringent. Farmers have a duty of care to their employees and CabChart can not only assist employees with preexisting injuries, but it can also help prevent an injury before it occurs. And with an aging workforce, the system is needed more than ever.”
The CabChart series of exercises take only three minutes to perform and it’s advised that they are repeated every 30 to 60 minutes. Best of all, the exercises can be performed while operating the machine.
Doug explained, “The exercises are all very simple from things like semi squats, which can be performed while sitting in the tractor or harvester, to tilting your head from side to side or stretching your upper arms. Each exercise is fully explained using a picture and farmers are also given a separate guidance sheet to further explain the exercises.”
NSW contractor Don Bartlett is looking forward to the CabChart system. “I’ve been contracting since 1971 and I can’t remember a day when I didn’t suffer pain as a result of long hours on the harvester and the constant vibration of the machine. It’s an occupational hazard,” the Inverell-based contractor said. “Because you’re just sitting there, your muscles get stiff. And then if you break down or something, you’ll get out of the cab and bend down to lift something you probably shouldn’t be lifting. The result is an injury or further aggravation to a preexisting injury.”
With an aging workforce, the system will be in great demand, Don added, “Most of the contractors I know are 45 plus. And as it gets harder and harder to attract new people into the industry, we need to do everything we can to look after the people we’ve already got.”
Doug developed the system after working with farmers in the popular wheat-growing area, Esperance, WA. “I noticed that a lot of my clients, who are farmers, were suffering similar complaints – particularly at peak times such as harvest and seeding. And with GPS systems now available, farmers were telling me they were falling asleep behind the wheel. They no longer need to steer so they end up sitting there for hours on end doing nothing but getting bored. By performing these exercises, farmers will improve their blood flow to their muscles and the brain, which in turn will reduce operator fatigue.
Get it free
CabChart will be offered free with every new harvester, TM, TG and TJ tractor series sold from August this year. The system – which outlines a series of quick and easy to perform exercises that can be done on the job - is designed to improve the occupational health and safety of Australian farmers.
Tractor Exercises are the Key to Prevention
By exercising in the cab while sitting hour after hour, putting in and taking off the crop, you can help to alleviate symptoms such as stiff shoulders, achy calves, sore spine and reduced mental concentration.
A set exercise program can also in the long run help to minimise long-term aches and pains – an increasing problem for today’s farmers – many who are finding that with improved machinery and the use of GPS systems, they are also putting on weight, becoming bored, and some are even falling asleep at the wheel!
Esperance physiotherapist Doug Cary has designed a series of exercises on an adhesive chart that can be easily displayed on a tractor window, so farmers are regularly reminded to carry out the routine while working.
A part-time farmer himself, Mr Cary said he designed the programs after it became clear to him that there was an increasing need for farmers to get their bodies moving again. This CabChart can be thought of as a tool. Providing the means by which employees can positively take responsibility to look after their own health & well being. In providing the CabChart employers are also addressing their duty of care in providing a safer work environment.
Investing time and effort into the operator of big and expensive machinery will help to ensure its safe and correct operation. It was also important that farmers looked after their employee’s well-being.
Mr Cary said the annual CabChart package contained an exercise program for seeding and an alternate one for harvest, plus detailed exercise descriptions with other important injury prevention information. The CabChart makes good business sense. (insert pic CabChart 1 & 2)
For more information on the CabChart package, Mr Cary can be contacted at Esperance Physiotherapy on 9071 5055.
Is your header just like an office? Ken Hart
Repetitive strain injury is one of those things that only affect office workers. You know the kind that makes a living by sitting around for eight hours a day. Well, guess who else sits around for umpteen hours per day during seeding and harvest. Add to that, having your bones rattled for the whole time in the luxury of a vibrating seat! It seems that the bigger and more automated machinery gets the less work the operator needs to do.
We’ve heard and used all the excuses when it comes to injury prevention. Not enough time, don’t know-how etc. Well, there are no excuses now! Esperance farmer and Physiotherapist, Doug Cary, has come to the rescue with CabChartTM.
The CabChartTM pack contains a sticker that goes onto the header or tractor window and an information sheet. The sheet has the same photographs and the information explains each of the exercises. There is also information on correct posture while you sit as well as on how to prevent injury.
Your own health and well-being aside, there is also the issue of your duty of care to your employees. Providing a safe working environment is of the utmost importance. By displaying CabChartTM in the right places employees will be better informed and able to take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
Of course, care does need to be taken and a well-balanced lifestyle is important. If you have aches and pains that do not go away you should seek professional advice.
If you would like more information about CabChartTM contact Doug Cary at Esperance Physiotherapy; 9071 5055
Move Well to Stay Well
Time for a Service
During my day job as a physiotherapist I regularly hear from farmers “I don’t have the time” and “I don’t know what to do”. And yet the topic of discussion is the important subject of looking after their lifetime vehicle – their bodies. No problem doing the 250 hour service on the new self-propelled boom spray or 350 horsepower tractor, but their body….
So that was the challenge. Find a method by which to provide concise, professional information on injury prevention without putting greater demands on farmers’ time schedules. For years I have been trialling various methods thought up during my night job, putting in the hay crop for our premium beef operation. This year many of the different ideas were combined. The resultant package is called the CabChartTM series, but first a little on the nature of injuries.
In this context in am not discussing traumatic injuries, like being head butted in the yards by an excited ewe or hammering a finger and not the nail.
Here I am addressing repetitive strain injuries. 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. For example, in the general population, the dominant shoulder usually develops rotator cuff tendon problems, yet in the broad acre farming community it is my observation that the left shoulder fails first. My thought is that the left handed position at 12 o’clock while pulling tillage, seeding & other machinery places the tendons in what we professionally call the impingement position subjecting the tendon to greater loads. Over time, this wears the tendon to the point of failure.
Solution; left hand holds the wheel at 8 o’clock and regularly changes to the right hand at 4 o’clock.
Similar 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. More sitting, less physical activity.
The posture of sitting works a limited range of muscles so these fatigue quickly. The constant exposure to machinery vibration weakens bone and tendon structure & the tedium of following a foam blob or disc line over several hours sends the brain into a recluse as mental arousal drops. Greater usage of GPS systems is accentuating this situation. With the increased hours sitting farmers are finding their love handles are growing, their aches and pains niggle more consistently and some have fallen asleep at the wheel!
The Solution, 3 in 30.
Using regular exercises in the cab while sitting hour after hour, farmers can help to alleviate symptoms such as stiff shoulders, achy calves, sore & stiff spines and reduced mental concentration.
The exercises are designed as a series on an A5 adhesive sheet using digital photographs, which can be easily displayed on the tractor window, so farmers are regularly reminded to carry out the routine while working and they don’t have to stop working. Through self trials I have found that practicing them for 3 minutes every 30 minutes is a good balance.
A Multifunctional Tool
The CabChartTM can be thought of as a tool. For the owner-operator it provides answers the statements “I don’t have the time” and “I don’t know what to do”.
In providing the CabChartTM employers are also addressing their duty of care in providing a safer work environment. Displaying the CabChartTM 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.
A set exercise program can also in the long run help to minimise long-term aches and pains which appear during intense periods of farm activity – just when you don’t have the time…Naturally, if pain persists seek professional advice.
The CabChart Package
The CabChartTM package contains the A5 Display Adhesive plus a paper Description Sheet. The Description Sheet has the same photographs with extra text explaining each exercise plus additional information about correct posture while sitting & important injury prevention information.
Completely new exercises, Adhesive Display & Description Sheet are designed for seeding and harvest, ensuring a high level of interest through variety.