‘56% of farmers in Ireland annually suffer an MSD injury’

A European campaign to cut the levels of painful and debilitating musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) has commenced, according to Teagasc.

MSDs are injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, discs and bones.

In a European survey, 60% of workers identified MSDs as most prevalent work-related problem that they encountered.

The campaign is being organised by the European Union Occupational Safety and Health Agency (EU-OSHA) which promotes occupational safety and health throughout Europe.

The theme of the European campaign is ‘Lighten the Load’, signifies the key messages: Altering workplaces and cutting loads are key approaches to reduce MSDs supported by using safe lifting techniques.

These approaches have the potential to reduce work related levels of lifting, pushing, pulling and carrying and cut musculoskeletal injury levels.

Research by Dr Aoife Osborne with Teagasc and UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sport Science, has established that 56% of farmers in Ireland annually suffered an MSD injury.

This makes it the most frequently suffered occupational ill health cause.

Body parts affected include the back and spine (37%), neck and shoulder (25%), hip and lower limbs (26%) and hand, wrist, spine (10%). An indication of the immediate incapacity caused by MSDs is that the research found that 57% of farmers lost full time workdays, with over 22% losing 15 days or more.

A public Zoom webinar on ‘Preventing MSDs among Farmers in Ireland’ will take place this Thursday,  October 29, from 11:00am to 12:30pm. All farmers are invited to attend the webinar, which is organised by Teagasc ConnectEd.

Dr. Noel Richardson, director of the Centre for Men’s Health, IT Carlow and Physical Education instructor, will describe ways to ‘Prevent MSDs through Health and Exercise approaches’.

The webinar will be jointly chaired by Pat Griffin of the Health and Safety Authority and Francis Bligh of Teagasc; it will include a question and answer session.

Dr John McNamara pf Teagasc said that Teagasc National Farm Survey research indicates the MSDs are among the main causes of disability among Irish farmers, which lead to farm income loss and reduced levels of part time employment.

He added: “I have met many farmers who have described the painful and debilitating consequences of an MSD injury.

In addition to infrastructure and equipment means of preventing MSDs, a farmer’s awareness of MSD prevention measures is a key driver to prevent such injuries.

“Farmers, as managers of farm workplaces, design and implement MSD prevention measures.”

Teagasc is also preparing to release a series of videos associated with musculoskeletal disorders prevention on Teagasc Social Media following the Zoom Webinar.

These will relate to: testimonial of MSD victim; milking techniques; sheep and cattle handling facilities; a physiotherapist describing MSD treatment and on exercise, diet weight-management related to MSD prevention and health.