Understanding the ergonomic risk for musculoskeletal disorders in the United States agricultural sector

Am J Ind Med. 2007 Jul;50(7):501-11. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20479.


Introduction: Farming is a very large industry in the United States. Understanding the risks for injuries and more specifically musculoskeletal disorders in this industry poses a challenge for health officials.

Methods: A review was conducted of the existing peer-reviewed publications prior to December 2006 about injuries and musculoskeletal disorders for farmers and farm workers. The aim was to review existing knowledge concerning: (1) the prevalence, types, and causes of farm-related injuries, paying particular attention to musculoskeletal disorders and the special populations within the agricultural sector, and (2) interventions that have been developed to reduce risk factors associated with farm-related injuries.

Results: Farmers and farm workers experience high rates of low back, shoulder, and upper extremity disorders. Musculoskeletal disorders may disproportionately affect farm youth and migrant workers due to the types of farm tasks performed. There is an urgent need for improved and validated interventions to reduce exposures and to improve the health of farmers and farm workers.

Discussion: Future farm-related musculoskeletal disorder research should emphasize: (1) better identification of exposures for special populations, (2) development of interventions for diverse farm populations, and (3) identification of additional exposures for musculoskeletal disorders. Inadequate understanding of musculoskeletal disorders in farming impedes efforts to prevent this common and important type of occupational injuries on farms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Transients and Migrants
  • United States / epidemiology