Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among Irish farm operators


  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.



To establish prevalence, risk factors, and impact of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among farmers in Ireland.


In summer 2009, a questionnaire was appended to the Teagasc (Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority) National Farm Survey (n = 1,110) to obtain data on the prevalence, risk factors and impact of WMSDs amongst farm operators in Ireland. Data were collected by trained recorders and analyzed using chi-square tests, t-tests, Mann–Whitney's U-tests and logistic regression models.


The prevalence of WMSDs in the previous year was 9.4% (n = 103), with the most commonly affected body region being the low back 31% (n = 32). Nearly 60% (n = 57) of farmers reported missing at least a full day's work as a consequence of their WMSD. Personal factors evaluated using binary regression analysis, were found not to influence whether or not a farmer experienced a WMSD. However, work-related factors such as larger European Size Units (ESUs, OR: 1.007, CI: 1.002–1.012), greater number of hectares farmed (OR: 2.501, CI: 1.208–4.920), higher income (OR: 1.859, CI: 1.088–3.177), dairy enterprise (OR: 1.734, CI: 1.081–2.781), and working on a full-time farm (OR: 2.156, CI: 1.399–3.321) increased the likelihood of experiencing a WMSD. Working on a full-time farm was the only factor found to independently predict WMSDs in the multiple regression analyses.


This study suggests that the prevalence of WMSDs can be reduced by the application of improved farm management practices. A more detailed examination of the risk factors associated with WMSDs is required to establish causality and develop effective interventions. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:235–242, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.