Lower Back Pain: Prevention Is More Comforting
Posted: August 31, 2012
Back pain, especially lower back pain, is a common work-related health issue among workers on small or family farms, according to research that was conducted in Colorado and Iowa many years ago. Today, it still remains as one of the most debilitating and discomforting ailments among farm workers.
When exploring the causes of back pain, almost half of sufferers indicate that they blame routine and repeated activities as the primary culprit. This would include many of the monotonous and sometimes strenuous chores that farmers and ranchers are
exposed to on a daily basis. These include: lifting heavy, bulky objects; climbing up and down ladders; accessing high work and operator platforms on farm tractors and implements; stepping over and around dangerous obstacles and hazards in buildings; and sitting and riding on tractors with an excessive amount of chronic whole-body vibration. Slips and falls at the worksite can also cause chronic back pain.
As with many safety- and health-related hazards at the agricultural workplace, prevention is the best option. Here are some ways to keep your back free from pain.
- When lifting heavy, cumbersome objects, try to seek assistance from a fellow worker or family member. If no one is available to help you, keep your body as close to the object as possible. Bend with your knees, and lift with your legs. A gradual and smooth lift is preferable; don’t try to “jerk” an object up. REMEMBER: Use the same procedure in reverse to set down a heavy object.
- Plan your transportation path ahead of time to eliminate obstacles and slippery surfaces that could result in a dangerous trip, slip or fall.
- Use proper equipment, such as hand trucks, forklifts, wheelbarrows and skid-steer loaders. These will serve as good alternatives to carrying objects--provided that you are familiar with their safe operation.
- To limit the health effects of whole-body vibration, be sure your tractor or farm equipment seat is in good condition. Long-term exposure to pan seats found on older tractors are a major culprit for significant vibration. Avoid these seats at all costs. Replace worn or damaged seats as soon as possible. Adjust seats so that your knees are level with your hips and that you have a comfortable reaching distance to the machine’s ignition and controls.
- Although farm work may at times be monotonous, try not to slump or slouch over in the operator’s station.
For more information about chronic back pain prevention and treatment, as well as other disabling conditions, log onto the Agrability website at http://fyi.uwex.edu/agrability/.