October is Ergonomics month so I thought I’d mix some ergonomics articles in with the harvest safety articles. The article I’m sharing today is from the local channel 2 news in Iowa City about a farm equipment vibrations study by two University of Iowa professors. I’ve been able to see some of the equipment for their study and it’s really neat.
Vibration has been studied extensively in other jobs like construction work and trucking, but this is one of the few studies that has focused on farm equipment. Full body vibration is a major cause of lower back pain, and can cause pain in other parts of the body too. There are a number of strategies for reducing the effects of vibration, although some of the strategies are not very practical for farmers: reduce the number of hours spent operating equipment, sit up straight and don’t twist or bend while operating equipment, invest in newer machines that require less force to operate the controls…Other strategies such as wearing a back brace or taking a break to get up and stretch every hour or so are more practical, but there have been mixed results as to whether or not they are effective at preventing vibration-related pain. Vibration-reducing seats have been shown to reduce exposure and increase comfort levels for truckers, and are available for tractors too. They can be pretty pricey (A quick Google search came up with models ranging in price from $150-$2000) but might be worth the investment if it makes driving more comfortable.