Fruit and vegetables

Main causes of injury

  • Manual handling and lifting - especially heavy or awkward loads or sharp edges
  • Slips and trips - mostly slips on wet floors also tripping over obstructions
  • Being struck by objects - mostly from falling packages etc and use of hand tools
  • Falls from height - off stairs, ladders, work platforms and vehicles
  • Striking against fixed and moveable objects, eg machinery, stationary vehicles
  • Machinery - mostly conveyors also packaging machines (bagging, form fill seal and palletisers)
  • Exposure to harmful substances - cleaning fluids (fume and splashes), ammonia refrigerant leaks
  • Transport - mostly involving fork lift trucks

Main occupational ill health risks

  • Musculoskeletal injury from manual handling boxes, sacks, wheeled trolleys etc.
  • Work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs), eg from repetitive sorting/packing work
  • Noise induced hearing loss from noisy machines, eg cleaning plant, packaging machinery
  • Respiratory irritation from breathing fumes such as chlorine, hypochlorite, ammonia and sulphur dioxide
  • Occupational dermatitis from handling fruits, vegetables and from chemical cleaners

Preventing manual handling/musculoskeletal injuries

Around 30% of manual handling injuries and the greatest proportion of musculoskeletal injuries (eg injured backs and work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs)) result from lifting, carrying or moving boxes, containers or sacks of fruit and vegetables. To reduce the risk of injuries, the following precautions should be considered:

  • mechanise where possible so as to avoid manual handling or, where this is not possible:
  • ensure unit weights are as low as practicable (not more than 25kg)
  • ensure heavy or awkward lifting movements (eg twisting) are avoided
  • avoid lifting at low level (eg consider self-raising pallet systems) or at high level above shoulder height (consider raised walkways)
  • ensure a manual handling risk assessment has been carried out for each work station and appropriate precautions adopted.

Is this page useful?

Updated 2023-06-15