Identify a number of hazardous manual tasks for your industry sector, that being more than three (3). Note the fact that 'manual handling' is not a risk. It is healthy to undertake physical work. What you need to identify is those tasks where there are ergonomic risk factors that then make a manual handling task, hazardous; like laying the tape on the road, it is specific, it is an actual task, not a generic risk like 'slip trip falls'.
About Turf Production
Artificial turf refers to the surface of synthetic fibres that are made to appear alike to natural grass. This is most commonly used for sports that were traditionally played on grass fields. However, the turf industry also finds its business in commercial applications and residential lawns. The primary reason for maintenance of the turf industry is that it can withstand heavy use in sport related activities and does not require any trimming and irrigation (Breuninger et al., 2013). It grows with growing with an estimated 4,400 hectares of turf under production at all times and there are almost 250 turf producing business throughout the country that are responsible for the production of turf, worth $300 million (Turf Australia, 2018). Turf production in Queensland characterises 38% of the entire production, while Victoria embodies 15%, New Western Australia 11%, South Wales 33%, and Tasmania, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory together yield 3%. 2725 ha in Queensland is under turf production and employs more than 700 people (Turf Queensland, 2018). This assignment will discuss the hazardous manual handling tasks that are involved in turf production.
Pallet of grass have an estimated 450 sq. ft. of sod inside it. It is suggested that the placement of a pallet of turf that is approximately 500 sq. ft in its dimensions usually requires 1-1 ½ hours by one person. The major risks that are associated with the placement of the pallet are twisting, binding and turning of the back. It involves awkward movements and postures and the person often has to work with raised arms, bent wrists and twisted trunk. Of all the issues that a person working in the turf industry can face, onset of musculoskeletal disorders are most widespread. The task of cutting the turf also involved bending of the body in inappropriate postures (Spector et al., 2014). The muscles usually get more fatigued easily. The large pallets are often difficult to grasp and might result in slipping, thereby causing an accident. Uneven loading and placement of the turf pallets might also lead to fatigue of the muscles due to the distant location of the centre of gravity of the concerned object from the middle of the body. Other hazards related to this task are the fact that the workers often find it difficult to reach the turf after their placement. This requires them to outstretch their arms and twist or bend their trunk, thus necessitating huge muscular force. Large shape and size of the pallets also obscure the view of the workers and increase the chances of tripping/slipping, collision and falling.
Tractors have been identified as a major form of work-related hazards on farms. The major injuries and hazards on a turf farm during tractor driving, while being engaged on the road ahead, but also collaborating and viewing the work behind might be faced during run-over, overturns, and power take-off entanglements. While attempting to both tasks simultaneously, the overturn of the tractors is the major hazard type and accounts for a majority of the turf-related work fatalities (Myers et al., 2013). While looking behind at the operations, the tractor can either turn sideways or backwards. This might occur when the person driving the tractor moves too close to the edge of the turf field or turns it sharply with a raised front-end loader. The tractor operator might also fall of the vehicle (Kim et al., 2016). Furthermore, absence of any back or arm rest also makes the person lose balance and suffer pain in the back.
Manual Handling Hazards in Turf Production
Lifting of heavy seed bags is another task that involves manual handling. This requires considerable amount of stooping, twisting and reaching for the bags. Furthermore, the bags are usually lifted from the level of the floor, above the height of the shoulders. This usually leads to the onset of back pain that occurs due to injuries to the muscles and the ligaments that are attached to the vertebral column. Ensuring even spread of the turf gives rise to a constant shooting pain sensation in the lower back of the workers, thus causing spine weakness and muscle spasm. This also leads to occasional numbness in the spinal cord (Zare et al., 2016). This can be accredited to the fact that the entire spine is put into motion during the task and the weak ligaments present in the lumbar spine get damaged upon lifting the heavy bags. This also accounts for a failure to stabilise the shoulders and the back bears the pressure. This transmits the fluid to the central region of the lumbar disc, subsequently triggering the onset of disc herniation and bulging. Placement of turf on a wider commercial scale forms an essential aspect of maintaining the design of the landscape. However, it involves several tasks such as, seeding, turfing, tuf plastering, dibbling roots, and astro turf.
Cutting down the turfs in uniform size and placing them side by side on the vast commercial area requires continuous bending and stretching of the back and the arms that also puts a strain on the muscles and leads to musculoskeletal injuries (Beach, Frost & Callaghan, 2014). There is mounting evidence for the fact that landscaping crews involved in such commercial turf based work are subjected to 10-12 hours of manpower each day (Hua-jia et al., 2013). This in turn adds to the stress on the body. Injury to the wrists and hands are a common issue due to the recurrent handling of controls. The stand-on mowers are subjected to sprain and injuries in their feet, knees, and lower back. With the presence of zero-turn mowers, pain can be intense in the lower back. According to Safe Work Australia, total economic costs of work injuries are an estimated $60 billion dollars. 190 workers were found to be fatally injured in the year 2017 in Australia, of whom 93% were males (Safe Work Australia, 2018).
Agriculture and ergonomic risks- Agricultural activities carried out in agrarian undertakings including forestry activities, crop production, animal husbandry and insect raising, in addition to the operation and upkeep of equipment, machinery, tools, appliances, and agricultural installations. It also comprises of all kinds of process, operation, storage, or transportation in large and small agricultural undertakings. Some ergonomic problems that are commonly faced by farmers are work-related musculoskeletal disorders due to their awkward postures, work-rest schedule, hand tools, and training (Naeini et al., 2014). Low back pain is one of the most prevalent ergonomic issue faced in such scenario. Some factors that create or aggravate work-related disorders, such as social and cultural factors, work demands, environmental factors, and work place characteristics. Some of the primary demographic features that are associated with hazards include work age, duration, educational status, technical training, work experience, safety tools, and drinking or smoking habits (Madeleine et al., 2014). Older workers accounted for a much larger proportion of mortalities in the Australian agriculture industry in 2016. Additionally, vehicle collisions, rollover of non-road vehicles and hit by moving substances accounted for 27%, 16%, and 14% of the fatalities (Safe Work Australia, 2016).
Tractor Hazards in Turf Production
Employees aged below 25 years are usually more involved in injuries, compared to those aged beyond 55. Furthermore, it is also found that people who work in the areas for 2-10 years report higher frequencies of ergonomic injuries (Salminen et al., 2017). This can be accredited to the fact that they undergo more sustained postures that continuously faces forceful exertion and contact pressures. Furthermore, low pay conditions prevent the people working in agricultural sectors to buy safety equipment that are required in those conditions (Jain, Meena & Dangayach, 2016). Maintaining a rigid posture and repetitive movements cause ergonomic damages. Imported agricultural machinery and tools that are based on the body dimensions of workers of foreign lands are often not suitable for diverse populations. Farmers are found to often labour in humid and hot environments. Hot temperatures most often result in muscle fatigue and dehydration. Furthermore, cold temperatures are found to reduce the muscle flexibility, thus triggering pulls and muscle strains (Coenen et al., 2013). Some other problems comprise of troubled breathing, sensory sensitivity, reduced dexterity, and lowered grip strength. Additionally, long working hours in the agricultural fields exposes the workers to painful, debilitating conditions that affect the muscles, nerves and tendon sheaths. One of the most common musculoskeletal disorder that occurs under such circumstances include carpal tunnel syndrome where the nerves in passageways get pinched (International Labour organization, 2012).
To conclude, ergonomics or the process of arranging and designing the workplace and industry is an essential component for preventing any unwanted injuries and damages to the health of the employees. The Australian turf industry is principally involved in the generation and upkeep of grasses that are utilized in management and development of facilities for sports activities, recreational purpose and home garden. Thus, it can be concluded that turf raises a number of safety and health concerns among the people who are employed in the industry. Hence, provisions must be created for a safe environmental, socio-demographical and human factors to reduce the work-related injuries prevalent in the industry.
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Coenen, P., Kingma, I., Boot, C. R., Twisk, J. W., Bongers, P. M., & van Dieën, J. H. (2013). Cumulative low back load at work as a risk factor of low back pain: a prospective cohort study. Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 23(1), 11-18.
Hua-jia, S. H. A. N., Meng-lu, L. I., Yan, S. U. N., & He, Z. H. O. U. (2013). Recent development of turf grass industry in China. Acta Agrestia Sinica, 21, 222-229.
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