Enhancing musculoskeletal health and preventing injury in migrant and seasonal farmworkers

Migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) are at risk for developing musculoskeletal symptoms and injuries (MSSI) due to repetitive, physically demanding tasks sustained over long periods. They have limited access to health care and educational resources to promote musculoskeletal health and minimize injury. This pilot project will involve approximately 35 MSFW who will be in western North Carolina (WNC) for approximately six weeks, between the months of September and November 2015, to work for a grower/farm owner to uproot, bundle, trim and load strawberry plants. The MSFW are, or will be, enrolled in Vecinos Farmworker Health Program (Vecinos). Faculty and students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Western Carolina (WCU) will develop resources/programs for MSFW to promote musculoskeletal health and minimize injury risks related to the specific physical demands of uprooting strawberry plants. Working from the camps where the MSFW live, the investigative team will assess MSSI using a slightly modified screening tool and self-report survey developed for a prior research project and will provide education using some innovative strategies. Staff from Vecinos (lay health workers) will assist with translation and general communication with MSFW. The investigative team will inform growers/farm owners of their efforts to reduce MSSI among the farmworkers and seek their support. They will also offer ergonomically sound tools for trial use by MSFW when performing their work in the fields.

OUTCOMES: Carzoli, JA., Lunnen, K, et al. Musculoskeletal Health Learning Series for Agricultural Outreach Workers. North Carolina Farmworker Health Program. http://www.ncfhp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Musculoskeletal-Injury-P.... February 2017.