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Lifting causes secondary back injuries for farmers

S. Dee Jepsen, Kent McGuire and Danielle Poland Published on 30 May 2011

In agriculture, farmers are always carrying objects from one location to another. The objects may range from a bag of seed corn to the planter, parts to a piece of equipment, buckets of feed to livestock, or to bales of hay.

Individuals engaged in farming with a disability or physical limitation should take preventive measures to protect their backs.

Approximately 25 percent of Ohio work related injuries are from overexertion when lifting. Not only can a back injury initially be devastating to the productivity of the farmer, but can lead to a lifetime of discomfort.

Secondary back injuries are common because farmers will continue work tasks, without adequate restrictions, while recovering from the initial injury. This makes them more likely to experience a secondary injury leading to permanent damage.

Factors that increase the risk of a back injury include:

• The size or weight of the object.

• Repetitive lifting of objects.

• Not using correct posture while lifting.

• The person’s physical condition.

• The person’s amount of everyday stress.

It is highly important to respect the back by following proper lifting techniques.

• Have a plan before picking up an object. Know the best route to the desired destination while avoiding slipping hazards.

• Determine if one individual can carry the load safely. If the load is too heavy or awkward, get help from someone else or use machinery/equipment such as a wheelbarrow or forklift.

• Try lightening the load if possible by making multiple trips.

• Bend at the knees.

• Hug the load keeping it as close to the body as possible.

• Lift from a raised surface and deposit it onto a raised surface to avoid bending all the way to the ground.

Avoid tasks that include:

• Bending the back.

• Twisting.

• Loads that are too heavy.  FG

S. Dee Jepsen, Kent McGuire and Danielle Poland, Agricultural Safety and Health,
Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University

—Excerpts from The Ohio State University Extension Agricultural and Natural Resources Fact Sheet

References omitted due to space but available upon request.