Manual Handling Solutions for Farms (HSE AS23)

Everyday solutions

Physical solutions to manual handling problems are often low cost and easy to apply, such as simple but important improvements like levers and platforms.


Increased mechanisation has led to less dependence on and knowledge about straightforward solutions like levers. Simple leverage can be a very cheap and effective solution. Situations where you could use leverage include:

  • helping to make minor adjustments when hitching linkage-mounted machines or hanging gates;
  • inching a heavy item, eg a water tank, horizontally;
  • using a spare post or crowbar when fencing for removing posts or tensioning wire;
  • purpose-made tools for lifting manhole covers;
  • long-handled wrenches or extension handles on some tools (taking care not to damage or over-tighten bolts).


Tables and platforms, including temporary ones, can help ensure you are working at the best height. Consider:

  • a swing-out 'bench' over the tractor's front weight frame for maintenance work at a remote site;
  • a trolley or swing-out mounting on a tractor to present a heavy toolbox at a convenient height and avoid lifting;
  • a makeshift bench, eg of straw bales, to make livestock husbandry tasks easier;
  • storing tractor weights at the same height as the mounting frame, eg on pallets (if you cannot handle them mechanically).

Use a counterbalance or stored energy to help

  • Consider applying a counterbalance weight to help when lifting loads such as heavy manhole lids. Remember not to compromise child safety where a lid or cover is secured shut by weight alone.
  • Fit and maintain effective tailgate assistors (counterbalances, springs etc) on livestock transporters.

Make it easier to link equipment to tractors

  • Position equipment accurately, using any slope to your advantage.
  • Maintain and use the three-point linkage levelling box and the adjustment in a top link.
  • Use quick attach/detach systems, eg with an 'A' frame (see Figure 1).
  • Consider auto-attach and demount weight blocks in place of individual
  • Front weights.

Figure 1: Tractor weights mounted on a frame to enable attachment by hydraulic link arms.
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