Ache, pain, and discomfort: The reward for working with many cows and sows?

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Biosystems and Technology, Alnarp, Sweden.
Journal of Agromedicine (Impact Factor: 0.91). 02/2006; 11(2):45-55. DOI: 10.1300/J096v11n02_08
Source: PubMed


The main purpose of the study was to investigate the prevalence of perceived symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among workers on large-scale dairy and pig farms in Sweden (herd size more than 300 cows and 450 sows) and to identify potential risk factors in the development of MSD. A study based on questionnaires was carried out among 42 workers on 10 large dairy farms and among 37 workers on 10 large pig farms in Southern Sweden during the autumn of 2002. Most importantly, the study showed that 86% of the dairy workers and 78% of the pig workers reported some kind of MSD during a period of 12 months prior to the study. The most frequently reported MSD among both the dairy and the pig workers were in the "upper extremities" (52% and 62%, respectively) especially in the shoulders and in "the back" (60% and 57%, respectively) especially in the lower back. Furthermore, being of short stature, doing repetitive work, working in awkward positions and being exposed to dust were significant risk factors in having MSD among the workers in this study. Thus, working with many cows and sows on large-scale farms in Sweden can be considered as a high risk job with regard to MSD.

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    • "This current study found that 9.4% (n ¼ 103) of Irish farm operators reported having a WMSD in the previous year, with the most commonly affected body region being the low back 31% (n ¼ 32). Personal factors explored in the current study were found not to influence whether or not a farmer experienced a WMSD, although some previously reported MSD risk factors, for example, body mass index [Holmberg et al., 2004], height [Kolstrup et al., 2006], weight [Gustafsson et al., 1994] were not explored "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: To establish prevalence, risk factors, and impact of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among farmers in Ireland. Methods: In summer 2009, a questionnaire was appended to the Teagasc (Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority) National Farm Survey (n = 1,110) to obtain data on the prevalence, risk factors and impact of WMSDs amongst farm operators in Ireland. Data were collected by trained recorders and analyzed using chi-square tests, t-tests, Mann-Whitney's U-tests and logistic regression models. Results: The prevalence of WMSDs in the previous year was 9.4% (n = 103), with the most commonly affected body region being the low back 31% (n = 32). Nearly 60% (n = 57) of farmers reported missing at least a full day's work as a consequence of their WMSD. Personal factors evaluated using binary regression analysis, were found not to influence whether or not a farmer experienced a WMSD. However, work-related factors such as larger European Size Units (ESUs, OR: 1.007, CI: 1.002-1.012), greater number of hectares farmed (OR: 2.501, CI: 1.208-4.920), higher income (OR: 1.859, CI: 1.088-3.177), dairy enterprise (OR: 1.734, CI: 1.081-2.781), and working on a full-time farm (OR: 2.156, CI: 1.399-3.321) increased the likelihood of experiencing a WMSD. Working on a full-time farm was the only factor found to independently predict WMSDs in the multiple regression analyses. Conclusions: This study suggests that the prevalence of WMSDs can be reduced by the application of improved farm management practices. A more detailed examination of the risk factors associated with WMSDs is required to establish causality and develop effective interventions.
    American Journal of Industrial Medicine 02/2013; 56(2). DOI:10.1002/ajim.22092 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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    • "In old-fashioned dairy houses where the cows were kept tethered in stalls, milking was performed in physically demanding postures that involved bending and twisting and often involved carrying heavy milking equipment. Several studies have found that the work load and MSD among farmers and workers in loose-housing systems, where milking is performed in an upright standing position and with stationary milking equipment, are concentrated to the upper extremities [4,19,30,31,36,37]. This indicates that with changed milking systems, work loads and working postures, MSD seem to remain at the same level, but might have shifted from the lower extremities to the upper extremities. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Dairy farming is physically demanding and associated with a high frequency of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). This study investigated and compared work-related MSD, ergonomic work factors and physical exertion in farmers and employed farm workers on dairy farms in Sweden. Methods The study comprised 66 dairy farmers, and 37 employed dairy farm workers. A modified version of the general Standardised Nordic Questionnaire was used for analyses of perceived MSD in nine different parts of the body. Perceived physical discomfort was assessed using questions concerning ergonomic work factors. A rating scale was used for analyses of perceived physical exertion. Information about participant demographics was also collected. The response rate amounted to 70%. Results The most frequently reported MSD in farmers and farm workers were located in the lower back (50% and 43%, respectively) and the shoulders (47% and 43%, respectively). MSD were also frequently reported in the neck (33%) among farmers, and in the hands/wrist (41%) among farm workers. MSD in the elbows (23%) and feet (21%) were significantly more frequently reported by farmers than farm workers (5%). Female farmers and farm workers both reported significantly higher frequencies of MSD in the neck (48% and 56%, respectively) and hands/wrists (44% and 61%, respectively) than their male colleagues (24% and 5%; 10% and 21%, respectively). In addition, female farm workers had significantly higher reported frequencies of MSD in the upper and lower back (39% and 61%, respectively) than their male counterparts (5% and 26%, respectively). Milking was perceived as a weakly to moderately physically demanding work task. Repetitive and monotonous work in dairy houses was the ergonomic work factor most frequently reported as causing physically discomfort among farmers (36%) and farm workers (32%), followed by lifting heavy objects (17% and 27%, respectively). Female workers had significantly more reported discomfort from repetitive and monotonous work than their male counterparts (50% and 16%, respectively). Conclusion Despite the technical developments on modern dairy farms, there is still a high prevalence of MSD and discomfort from ergonomic work factors, particularly among female workers.
    Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 11/2012; 7(1):23. DOI:10.1186/1745-6673-7-23 · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    • "MSDs are the most frequent cause of severe longterm pain and physical disability [Woolf and Pfleger, 2003]. Lifetime prevalence and 1-year prevalence rates for farmers are very high; two recent studies recorded rates of 90.6 [Holmberg et al., 2002] and 92% [Kolstrup et al., 2006], respectively. In addition to causing pain, suffering, illness and injury, they can also result in reduced work ability and, consequently, reduced farm income [Whelan et al., 2009], poor quality of life such as limited social interaction arising from MSD reduced mobility, and the onset of other health problems such as stress [Lizer and Petrea, 2008]. "
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    ABSTRACT: A systematic review was undertaken to establish risk factors for the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among farmers. Comprehensive electronic searches of Pubmed, Web of Science, CINAHL, SCOPUS, EMBASE, Agris Database, and Cochrane Library were carried out using a battery of key words for MSDs and farmers. The studies methods quality was assessed using a standardized checklist. Thirty-three studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The median method score was 65% of the maximum attainable score, resulting in 15 studies of higher methodological. Risks were categorized into: Work characteristics (n = 11), personal characteristics (n = 5), and psychosocial factors (n = 5). Spinal MSD risk factors include exposure to working in tree crops, vibration, postural load, being an owner operator, age, education beyond high school, suffering from asthma or depression, having <8 hr nightly sleep, bad quality sleep, and geographic location. Upper extremity MSD risk factors include being an owner operator, dust with pig workers, numbness and coldness in younger milkers and numbness in milkers >43 years, age, and body height in dairy farmers. Lower extremity MSD risk factors include, duration of farming ≥10 years, working >5 hr daily in animal barns, milking >40 cows, years as a dairy farmer, farm work, age, body mass, and female gender. In exploring risk factors the spine was the most researched body region, followed by lower and upper extremity. Given the variance between studies, it is recommended that future studies focus on specific types of farmers and should explore specific exposures for specific body parts using standardized case definitions.
    American Journal of Industrial Medicine 04/2012; 55(4):376-89. DOI:10.1002/ajim.22001 · 1.74 Impact Factor
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