Research

Three work postures linked to back pain

A major South Korean study of agricultural workers has identified three work postures that significantly contribute to lower back pain (LBP) – findings important for all industries,.

The study of more than 1,200 farmers from South Korea’s Jeju Island, which has a high ratio of agricultural work, found 24 per cent suffered LBP.

Jeju National University researchers found the rates not only increased with age and career duration, but through certain types of farming and daily stress levels. They also found that among a number of biomechanical factors, three were significantly associated with LBP.

The harmful postures included:

  • repetitive use of body parts like hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders;
  • bending, twisting or reclining the lower back by more than 30 degrees; and
  • neck flexion or rotation of more than 20 degrees.

These results are in line with previous studies that found "workers who mainly bent forward or sideways reported LBP due to unstable posture and excessive workload".

Unfortunately, they said that postural education, injury prevention education and psychological support play important roles in preventing LBP – rather than recommending higher order controls. "It is important to educate farmers on safe posture or pre-work exercise to prevent occupational injury."

According to the researchers, LBP appears to affect from 26.9 to 63.9 per cent of farmers. LBP has been shown to cause serious socioeconomic losses, physical impairment, and mental health harms like stress, anxiety and depression, they say. "As age increases, the prevalence of LBP increases with continuous exposure to occupational factors and changes in pain perception."
Read more: Hung Jung Lee, et al,Prevalence of Low Back Pain and Associated Risk Factors among Farmers in Jeju [full article]Safety and Health at Work, online first June 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.shaw.2021.06.003 Source: OHSAlert

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