Physical Demands and Low-Back Injury Risk among Children and Adolescents Working on Farms

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Wilkins III, J.R.;
  • Allread, W. Gary;
  • Marras, William S.;
  • Waters, Thomas R.


Little information currently exists regarding the risk of low-back disorders among youth who perform physically demanding farm activities. Thus, a field study was conducted in which children and adolescents who engage in farm work were recruited, fitted with a lumbar motion monitoring system, and then observed performing their usual chores. The lumbar motion monitor was used to record the trunk movements required while youth were performing routine manual material handling tasks on a farm. Workplace factors and motions from both males and females were recorded on over 40 farm tasks, such as feeding animals, lifting bales of hay and straw, and other miscellaneous farm chores. Although the sample size and number of observations in this study were small, the results showed that the magnitude of several work-related factors, such as weight and horizontal moment arm, and trunk motions for many farm activities were equal to or greater than those associated with high injury risk jobs previously assessed in industrial workplaces. In this study, we quantified the physical demands of tasks performed by children and adolescents on farms. In addition, the specific farm chores more likely to load the spines of youth and thereby contribute to musculoskeletal injury were identified.

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