• Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among Irish farm operators

      Osborne, Aoife; Blake, Catherine; Meredith, David; Kinsella, Anne; Phelan, James; McNamara, John G.; Cunningham, Caitriona; Health and Safety Authority, Ireland; Teagasc (Wiley Periodicals Inc., 10/07/2012)
      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=1110) 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 tests and binary logistic regression. 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 bivariate 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=2.50, 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 fulltime farm (OR=2.156, CI=1.399-3.321) increased the likelihood of experiencing a WMSD. The variable ‘fulltime farm’ which was associated with a higher labour unit requirement to operate the farm, was the only factor found to independently predict WMSDs in the multivariate 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 hence, effective interventions.