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Preventing back pain and injury on the farm

July 15, 2016 - Aches and pains are common afflictions of everyday life. Stiff knees, sore feet and back pain are all too common. Back injuries can be chronic (long-term) or short-term and can affect everyone at some point in their life. Back pain, especially lower back pain is a common work-related issue that affects many farmers from farms both small and large.

Back pain can be caused by many factors and can affect anyone, young or old. Farmers are especially at risk because work done on the farm can include activities that are factors for developing back pain. Some risk factors for developing back pain include:

  •         Awkward body posture while working
  •         Driving farm equipment for long periods of time that cause your whole body to vibrate
  •         Slips and falls
  •         Lifting objects heavier than 25 pounds or repeatedly lifting lighter objects
Most lower back pain caused by overexertion is short-lived and usually resolves on its own. However, having back pain for any amount of time can be a real problem. If severe enough, back pain can lead to a hard time walking or sitting, let alone doing any farm work.

What can be done to help reduce the risk of having back pain? There are some easy steps to remember to help reduce the likelihood of spending the next few days in pain.

Start by recognizing high-risk activities. Are you spending an extraordinary amount of time in equipment? Are you lifting awkward or heavy loads? Is there a tripping hazard that could lead to a fall? Once you realize that there could be a potential for creating back pain, take some steps to help yourself.
  1.           Avoid prolonged, repetitive tasks. (Ask somebody to help out! Take turns.)
  2.           Practice good lifting hygiene. (Use your legs!)
  3.           Alternate between heavy and light work tasks.
  4.           Take frequent rest breaks.
  5.           Before starting a task, consider how it could be done differently.
  6.           Address tripping hazards.
There are also things that you can do to strengthen your body against the suffering of back pain. Don’t wait until you are in severe pain to start! Exercising, strengthening your core, stretching and eating well can not only safeguard against back injury, it can also lead to optimal health.  

If you’re back pain doesn’t resolve itself or is unbearable, seek the advice of a doctor or other medical professional. Don’t ignore the pain and hope it goes away. Medical treatment and rehabilitation may enable you to continue working and functioning. By addressing the issue, you could prevent further pain.

For more information about farm safety, visit CASA’s website at www.casa-acsa.ca.

As a national, non-profit organization, CASA promotes farm safety in the agricultural sector. CASA’s vision is a country where no one is hurt farming and CASA works with partners in government, business, and farming organizations across the country to support initiatives that equip producers, their families and their workers with the information and tools needed to make farms a safe place to live, work and play.


July 15, 2016
By Canadian Agricultural Safety Association