Wally Fuller, 50, is speaking up for Farm Safety Week after repetitive motions with his hands over 25 years working on the land caused carpal tunnel syndrome. Friday, 19th Jul, 2019.
Wally Fuller, 50, is speaking up for Farm Safety Week after repetitive motions with his hands over 25 years working on the land caused carpal tunnel syndrome. Friday, 19th Jul, 2019. Nev Madsen

How working too hard ruined Wally's life

WORKING too hard and through throbbing pain in his wrists has all but destroyed Wally Fuller's life.

The 50-year-old farm worker is the epitome of a man of the land, with weathered skin from working outdoors to a dogged work ethic and mantra that things simply had to get done.

But now Mr Fuller is warning others to be safety conscious after suffering bilateral carpal tunnel requiring surgery on both wrists which has forced him to find a new career away from what he knows.

He's also battling psychological injuries as he changes industries from the one he's worked in for 25 years, compounded by concerns on how he'll make a living, pay the family's bills and put his daughter through higher education.

"I'm not a sooky person but when you wake up crying in the middle of the night because you don't know what you're going to do with you life, it gets you down," Mr Fuller said.

He spent a quarter century working as a cotton siphoner, plunging pipes into water streams to water crops, and general hard farm labour until December 2017 when the pain in his wrists became too much.

HARD YAKKA: Speaking up for Farm Safety Week are (from left) worker Wally Fuller, Maurice Blackburn lawyer Samantha Walker and Kyla Fuller.
HARD YAKKA: Speaking up for Farm Safety Week are (from left) worker Wally Fuller, Maurice Blackburn lawyer Samantha Walker and Kyla Fuller. Nev Madsen

His average working week, according to pay slips, was 80 hours, peaking at more than 94 hours.

He received surgery under WorkCover Queensland to get back to work, but the pain was too severe.

Since then, he's tried truck driving and working two or three days a week, but the pain has remained.

"My injury is just from constantly using my hands all the time," Mr Fuller said.

"That's all it's from; it's just going the same repetitive job."

He urged employers to pay closer attention to staff and the hours they work, and encouraged workers to be mindful of injuries, take regular breaks, and be aware of job stresses.

Mr Fuller, who has engaged Maurice Blackburn lawyer Samantha Walker to investigate a claim for compensation, has spoken of his experience for Farm Safety Week.

Ms Walker said many farm injuries were preventable.

"Farm-related injuries like Wally's are all too common in the agricultural industry with farm owners not providing adequate break times, appropriate training, or safe manual handling procedures and equipment."

Farm Safety Week runs through to Friday.



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