Body Parts Affected and Common Conditions

Across all industries, the most common injuries are sprains and strains, followed by soreness and pain. The body parts most commonly affected are, in descending order, the back, neck, shoulder, wrist, knee, and multiple body systems. The mechanism most likely to result in an injury is overexertion, particularly while lifting. In a survey of migrant health centers in New York and Pennsylvania, joint and muscle strains were the most common type of injuries; they occurred most often in orchard work, and resulted from overuse, assuming an awkward position, and weight-bearing activity. Back, neck, and shoulder strains account for 39% of occupational health injuries at migrant health centers (6,11).

The California Farm Worker Survey from 1991 to 1996 reported the most prevalent types of injury events were overexertion and strenuous movement (13.5%). The body parts most commonly affected were, in descending order, the lower back, upper back, wrist, shoulder, knee, and neck. Cross-sectional studies of farmers in Ohio and Alabama have also reported sprains and strains as the most common types of injuries. Dairy farming is also associated with hand-wrist symptoms. Swedish research has identified three milking tasks (cleaning, premilking, and attaching) with high movement velocities and extreme positions (12-15).

A concern raised in a NIOSH conference regarding MSDs in children and adolescents is the impact of ergonomic hazards on the immature mus-culoskeletal system. Strains and sprains were one of the most common injuries in adolescents working on farms. Weeding by hand, washing and packing produce, loading and unloading produce, and tractor operation were five activities believed too strenuous for children and adults. A survey of North American fresh market vegetable growers and the children and adolescent workers reported low back (26%), foot and ankle (21%), knee (18%), and neck (16%) pain. Fresh market vegetable production requires soil preparation, planting, transplanting, weeding, hand harvesting, and product handling. Smaller operations often involve extensive and inefficient hand labor, and high levels of physical effort (see Chapter 12) (16-19).

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