Interventions to Reduce Low-Back Injury Risk among Youth Who Perform Feed Handling and Scooping Tasks on Farms

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Allread, W. Gary;
  • Waters, Thomas R.


Children and adolescents who perform farm chores are exposed to cumulative trauma injury risks, particularly to the low back. For example, they may routinely handle heavy materials and need to adopt awkward postures during farm chores. Two potential interventions aimed at reducing low-back injury risk were examined in the laboratory: the use of a rugged cart and proper orienting of feed bags to ease feed transport; and the use of a modified feed bin, intended to allow easier access to product scooped from the bin at different levels. A lumbar motion monitor device was used to quantify trunk movement and determine injury risk level. Fourteen male and female youth who regularly perform these farm chores participated in the study. The cart significantly reduced low-back injury risk by nearly 10%, compared with manual feed bag lifting and carrying. The modified feed bin did not significantly reduce low-back injury risk, compared with traditional scooping. Regardless of the method used, however, scooping feed from the top of the bin reduced lower back disorder risk by 50% or more compared to the two lower levels. This study showed that relatively simple and low-cost solutions can be applied to farm environments to help protect the low backs of youth who perform farm chores.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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