Breaking Ground in Agricultural Injury Prevention
Musculoskeletal disorders like back strain and carpel tunnel syndrome are responsible for much more than just aches and pains. They’re the most common work-related injuries in many industries, and result in higher health-care costs, productivity losses and reduced quality of life for workers.
Agricultural workers appear to be especially vulnerable to injuries because of such risk factors as heavy lifting, repetitive movements and vibrating machinery. However, little is known about the relationship between these risk factors and musculoskeletal disorders. As a result, injury prevention strategies for agricultural workers are still undeveloped.
Dr. Catherine Trask, Canada Research Chair in Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Health, aims to rectify this situation by identifying, measuring and reducing workplace exposure in high-risk agriculture occupations. Trask is investigating the nature of injuries in agriculture, determining contributing work factors, and developing prevention strategies. Her research uses injury surveys, electronic measurements of body postures and machinery vibration, and lab trials of prevention strategies.
Trask’s approach is practical and field-based. Several government and industry stakeholders are providing feedback in order to ensure results are applicable to real work environments.
Trask’s research will improve understanding about the mechanisms that result in musculoskeletal disorders, create opportunities for injury prevention, and contribute significantly to the health of workers in agriculture and other industries. Prevention strategies resulting from her research will help agricultural workers enjoy long and healthy careers free of musculoskeletal disorders.