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Paddock warm-ups grow healthy hearty staff

11 November 2014

Paddock warm-ups grow healthy hearty staff

Watched by crisp lettuce and the swirling morning mist LeaderBrand harvesting staff have a new way of starting work – a paddock warm-up preparing their bodies for the day ahead.

The ten to15 minute set of exercises and stretches increases blood flow to the working muscles and gives the heart advance notice there’s about to be an increase in activity. Crew members gently start to move major muscle groups and lightly stretch tendons and nerves.

“It’s about looking after our staff” says Lettuce Crop Manager Andrew Rosso who oversees harvest crews picking five days a week year round. “The team is working hard with plenty of lifting and bending all day, so the exercises are a proactive approach for keeping our staff injury free.”

Mr Rosso says it’s a way to warm up the muscles and the mind. “It’s something different we can offer in addition to the health checks; an ice breaker for the morning where we can have a laugh while prepping for the day.”

Harvester Shayne Biddle says the warm-ups are a welcome addition to his working day and a way to reduce the chance of injury. “It’s an opportunity to get our crew fitter and that’s got to be good because then we can work faster,” says the 24-year-old.

Fellow harvester Kim Stafford says she has always built stretches into her morning routine at home, so doesn’t mind doing the warm-ups once she gets to work. “I feel good after doing the exercise so I think it’s a really good idea.”

Crews learned the paddock-based workouts from Turanga Health fitness instructor Stephanie Broughton who has led exercise programs in some unusual places but never amongst lettuce.

“Warming up before physical work should be as normal as warming up before playing sport or exercising. It reduces the chance of soft tissue injuries to things like your ligaments, tendons, and muscles by allowing your muscles and joints to move through a greater range of motion easily and safely.”

Stephanie joined the crew for the early morning work-outs over a number of days making sure each exercise was performed correctly. Armed with enough information the crew now does the warm-ups and warm-downs by themselves.

Mr Rosso said warm-up exercises may seem unconventional to some staff but keeping them safe is a priority and it will quickly become the norm. “New staff joining our crews won’t know any difference. It will be standard before-work and after-work practice.”

The early morning exercise routines follow LeaderBrand’s adoption of Turanga Health’s Workplace Wellness Tū Mahi programme. Turanga Health nurses and kaiāwhina visit LeaderBrand staff and carry out health checks in a state-of-the-art mobile clinic. Nurses look at age, gender, ethnicity, weight, family history, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels, and diabetic and smoking status. Each person’s risk of developing heart problems in the next five years is assessed. Where appropriate some people are directed to see their GP and others are referred to Turanga Health’s smoking cessation kaiāwhina. Turanga Health visited the lettuce crew most recently while they picked lettuce in O’Grady’s Road. Of the 44 LeaderBrand staff seen that morning four were referred to their GP for follow up and 11 were registered with a smoking cessation programme.


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