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May 20, 2014

AgrAbility publication helps guard against back problems

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Farmers, ranchers and anyone involved in agriculture and home gardening can learn how to reduce the risks of developing back problems with a new publication by AgrAbility.

 BACK on the Farm, BACK in the Saddle also includes information on how to manage existing back problems.

"Back problems are consistently the most common disabling conditions reported by AgrAbility clients," said Paul Jones, AgrAbility project manager based at Purdue University. "In fact, back problems are some of the most common complaints by workers in all industries, and they often result in lost work time. While back problems are challenging, they can be managed."

The 21-page booklet, offered free of charge, discusses many back problems common in agriculture as well as preventing, managing and treating them. It also offers guidance on how best to perform common tasks such as lifting heavy objects and equipment. Among the tips:

* Position your body directly in front of the object.

* Bend at your hips and knees so that your legs, not your back, perform most of the work.

* Keep your back upright and straight throughout the lift.

* Lift as smoothly as possible, keeping the object as close to your body as possible.

* Use team lifting when feasible.

A variety of technologies are available to help with tasks that can cause or aggravate back problems. The booklet discusses several such tools, including:

* Squeeze chutes to restrain livestock.

* Ergonomically designed tractor seats for smoother ride.

* Skid-steer loaders to lift and carry heavy objects.

* Anti-fatigue floor mats for reducing stress on back muscles and vertebrae.

While the publication is a resource for helping to prevent and managing back problems, it is not a replacement for professional medical advice.

"Back problems are some of the most common physical impairments in agriculture and can be difficult to manage," the authors note. "Each person's condition is different. Before making changes, seek the advice of appropriate professionals, including a health care provider. "

The publication is available on the AgrAbility website at www.agrability.org/Resources/back.

AgrAbility is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and consists of a national project, led by the Breaking New Ground Resource Center at Purdue, and state/regional projects serving 22 states. 

Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, robins89@purdue.edu 

Source: Paul Jones, 765-494-1221, jonesp@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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