Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator
With spring approaching, it is time to start preparing for planting season and those spring work activities. As warmer weather increases so does the risk of an overexertion injury because of work practices that the body is not used to. Overexertion is an injury risk faced by many in the agricultural industry because of labor - intensive tasks and specific work practices over a long period of time. Overexertion is a major cause of sprain /strain injuries and inflammation of joints and ligaments that results from excessive physical effort. According to the National Safety Council, overexertion is the third leading cause of unintentional injuries, accounting for about 3.3 million emergency room visits, annually. There are several causes of overexertion including:
Fatigue: Burning the candle at both ends is unsustainable and many times less efficient when completing tasks over a long period of time. Sleep or rest is essential to allow the mind and body to heal and recharge after a strenuous workday.
Force: Force-related hazards can be present when lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, gripping, using tools.
Awkward or static postures: Posture-related hazards can be present when bending, twisting, reaching, and kneeling.
Repetitive movements/actions: Repetition-related hazards can be present when doing the same thing over and over again, with little time for rest.
Rapid movements and unanticipated muscle loading: Slipping, rushing or reacting to the sudden movement of a load, activates muscles quickly and can result in strains and sprains because it does not allow the use of supporting muscle groups.
Other overexertion injury hazards include contact stress, hand-arm vibration, whole-body vibration, impacts with hands/knees, and working in extreme hot or cold environments.
Some guidelines to reduce the risks of overexertion injuries include: