Winning Allotment
Fruit and Veg

Although gardening, whether it be in your own garden or on an allotment, it is very much known as a leisure activity and as such, it is not covered by any safety regulations or governed by any Enforcement Authority. However, it is in the best interest of the gardener to be aware of the risks and set precautions in place to eliminate them.

A lot of work in the garden involves manual handling, from digging and planting to building which puts a great strain on the body. Factors affecting the individual's risk of injury include the age and physical fitness of the person. Injuries can include:

  Cuts, bruises, crush injuries and lacerations.
  Muscle or ligament tears, hernias (ruptures), prolapsed invertebral discs, damage to knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows.
Causes of injuries include the incorrect lifting, pushing or pulling techniques, poor posture or excessive repetition of movement.
Below are some notes that may be helpful when assessing the tasks being undertaken and avoid the possibility of accident and injury.
Assess the Risks
  Although no formal risk assessment needs to be carried out it is a good idea to assess the surroundings and be aware of any potential hazards that could cause injury:
What does the task involve
What is the load
What is the working environment
Individual's capabilities
  1.1 The Task
    What elements of the task can cause problems:
Sudden movement of load
Frequent/prolonged physical effort
Insufficient recovery or rest periods
Work rate - pace yourself do not try to dig large areas all at once
  1.2 The Loads (Lifting of Compost, etc)
Top Are they:
Heavy, bulky or unwieldy
Difficult to grasp
Unstable or with contents that my shift
Slippery, sharp or damaging to hold
    The above can be eliminated by:
Reducing load size
Reduce distance of travel
Use handling aids, eg, wheelbarrow
The Working Environment
Slippery, uneven or unstable surfaces
Variations in the level of work or floor surfaces - on a hill for example
Unusually hot or cold temperatures
  1.4 Individual Capability
Is unusual strength or height needed?
Workers who may have a health problem or medical condition
2. Digging
Tools: Try to buy and use tools that are the correct length for your height
Do not tackle too much initially if not accustomed to it
Never dig when the ground in wet or there is a heavy frost - it is difficult to do but also not good for the soil structure
Dig in small clods to avoid unnecessary strain of lifting and turning
Try to avoid twisting and turning
Wear appropriate clothing, particularly footwear
Rest frequently by doing light work between digging
3. Sowing
Tools: Try to buy and use tools that are the correct length for your height
Kneel whenever possible if sowing directly into the soil
Some seeds are coated with insecticide/fungicide to help germination, try to use gloves when handling, but if this is not possible always wash hands when finished
If sowing at a work bench try not to stoop as this will cause back ache
4. Watering
If using a watering can always fill up from the nearest watering hole to prevent lifting and carrying excessively
Only carry what is your limit
Refer to "Lifting Loads"
5. Using Machinery

Strimmers, Hedge Trimmers, Chain Saws:

Parkhill committee endeavour to provide machinery for the convenience of members use in maintaining individual plots. The authorised keyholder reserves the right to refuse any member said use of machinery, or to refuse the loan of said machinery by any other keyholder to a member, if said member is deemed incapable of safely using the machinery or does not abide by sensible safety precautions in the use of said machinery. All members loaned machinery accept responsibility for their own safety while using said machinery and should return the machinery in good working order. If equipment is damaged please advise the key holder when you return it..

Always read the user manual to gain knowledge of use
If on loan ask for training by a competent person
If refuelling is required, check you know the mix (petrol or petrol/oil mix) and always refill in a well ventilated area on a appropriate surface
Make sure it is not to heavy, this will put strain on the body, particularly the back
Wear appropriate clothing
Lawn Mowers, Rotavators, Shredders:
Always read the user manual to gain knowledge of use
If on loan ask for training by a competent person
Whether manual or petrol, be aware of posture whilst using
If petrol, always refill in a well ventilated area
Wear appropriate clothing
6. Pesticides
Always read the instructions and directions
Be aware of surroundings
Only use when weather conditions are suitable eg dry and light or no wind
Wear appropriate clothing
Do not store in unmarked containers
Store correctly, preferably in locked cupboard away from animals and children
Use alternative biological methods if possible
7. Lifting Loads
Check approximate weight of load
Is the shape awkward?
Plan route, check for tripping and other hazards
Wear suitable clothing
  7.1 The Lift and Movement
Bend the knees
Keep the back as straight as possible
Establish good balance
Ensure good grip is achieved
Use body weight to lift load
Avoid any twisting movements
Keep arms and load as close to the body as possible
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