Manual Handling

Manual Handling and safety

Workers’ compensation data for dairy farming shows 1 in 5 claims involving more than 5 days off work are due to body stresses that result in musculoskeletal disorders.

These serious injuries cause suffering for the people involved, economic losses for the farm and increased workers’ compensation premiums and a poor employment reputation for the industry.

Workers on dairy farms do a wide variety of manual tasks that involve lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding or restraining things or animals.

These tasks have the potential to be hazardous if, for example, they involve postures that are awkward or sustained, forces that are high, sudden or repeated, movements that are repetitive, or exposure to vibration.

Musculoskeletal disorders resulting from hazardous tasks include back injuries, sprains and strains, joint and bone injuries or degeneration, nerve injuries or compression, hernias and chronic pain.

As an employer or person conducting a business on the farm you have a legal responsibility to manage risk to health and safety associated with all hazardous manual tasks.

A good place to start is Step by step – setting up safety for manual handling on your farm

Use the resources below to ensure that you comply with this requirement.


The Farm Safety Manual aims to make it straightforward for dairy farmers to build and improve a comprehensive farm safety system. 

Further information
Handling risk assessment guide checklist (Dairy Australia –
not included in the Farm Safety Manual)
Model Code of Practice – Hazardous manual tasks
(Safe Work Australia)
Preventing manual handling injuries on farm (Dairy NZ) PDF
Milking stretches (CowTime) PDF
Impact of milking on people (CowTime) PDF
Dairy design considerations (CowTime) PDF
Manual handling in the dairy (Safer Farms NZ) Website