Protect Your Back as Spring Planting Continues

By Andy Bauer,  Ohio AgrAbility Educational Program Coordinator

Now that spring planting is finishing up and summer work is coming on, we must remember to take care of and protect our backs. Agricultural workers are at a very high risk for back injuries since much of their job involves lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy loads, awkward working positions, vibrations and sudden jolts when driving across rough terrain as well as trips and falls from uneven ground.

Back health is often ignored on the farm until an injury has occurred. Often individuals continue working in spite of pain. With an endless “to do list”, farmers often put off seeing a physician or even taking time to rest, which can many times add to the injury.

Lets stop for just a minute and take a look at some preventive measures we can do to protect the back from injury. Think about your posture, balance, and body mechanics. Then remember to incorporate the following tips into your daily routine.
• Stretch and warm up before starting warm muscles work better than cold
• Use proper lifting technics keep your back straight lift with your legs keep object being lifted close to your body
• Avoid twisting at the waist when lifting, turn with your feet
• Get help if something is too heavy for you or if help is right there use it!
• Take breaks operating equipment for extended periods of time, stop on a regular basis to stretch, walk around. Use this time to check equipment.

Jumping down off equipment, prolonged sitting, vehicle vibration, jolts from rough terrain, along with twisting and turning of the trunk and neck to monitor equipment can all cause back pain or increase already existing back issues.
Some things to consider to help with these are:

• Replacing old worn out seats
• Use mirrors or cameras to monitor equipment
• Extend steps to make mounting and dismounting equipment easier
• Modify tongues on equipment to reduce bending and pulling when hooking up equipment

All of these measures should be considered to help reduce back injuries and make the long hard hours of spring work easier to handle and safer. A little bit of prevention now can help avoid a lot of pain for years to come.  For more information on prevention of back injuries contact Ohio AgrAbility at or Andy Bauer at or (614) 247-7681.