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Ohio State University Extension


Secondary Injury Caused by Lifting

Ohio AgrAbility Fact Sheet Series
Agriculture and Natural Resources
S. Dee Jepsen, Assistant Professor, State Safety Leader, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University
Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility Program Coordinator, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University
Danielle Poland, Student Intern, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University

In agriculture, farmers are always carrying objects from one location to another. The objects may range from a bag of seed corn to the planter, parts to a piece of equipment, buckets of feed to livestock, or to bales of hay. Individuals engaged in farming with a disability or physical limitation should take preventive measures to protect their backs. Approximately 25 percent of Ohio work related injuries are from overexertion when lifting. Not only can a back injury initially be devastating to the productivity of the farmer, but can lead to a lifetime of discomfort. Secondary back injuries are common because farmers will continue work tasks, without adequate restrictions, while recovering from the initial injury. This makes them more likely to experience a secondary injury leading to permanent damage.

Factors That Increase the Risk of a Back Injury:

  • The size or weight of the object.
  • Repetitive lifting of objects.
  • Not using correct posture while lifting.
  • The person's physical condition.
  • The person's amount of everyday stress.

It is Highly Important to Respect the Back by Following Proper Lifting Techniques.

  • Have a plan before picking up an object. Know the best route to the desired destination while avoiding slipping hazards.
  • Determine if one individual can carry the load safely. If the load is too heavy or awkward, get help from someone else or use machinery/equipment such as a wheelbarrow or forklift.
  • Try lightening the load if possible by making multiple trips.
  • Bend at the knees.
  • Hug the load keeping it as close to the body as possible.
  • Lift from a raised surface and deposit it onto a raised surface to avoid bending all the way to the ground.A man experiencing back pain while carrying  a box and walking with another man carrying a box.

Avoid Tasks That Include: 

  • Bending the back.
  • Twisting.
  • Loads that are too heavy.


This fact sheet was reviewed by Karen Mancl, PhD, Professor, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University; Josh Svarda, Program Coordinator, Easter Seals Work Resource Center.


Division of Occupational Safety and Health. (n.d.). Preventing Overexertion Injuries. [PowerPoint Slides]. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Division of Safety & Hygiene. (2003). Safety Management for Public Employers. Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

The Ohio State University Extension. (2018). Preventing Lifting and Overexertion Injuries for Trainers and Supervisors.Tailgate Safety Training for Landscaping and Horticultural Services,The Ohio State Univeristy.

About AgrAbility Based Fact Sheets
These fact sheets were developed to promote success in agriculture for Ohio's farmers and farm families coping with a disability or long-term health condition. AgrAbility offers information and referral materials such as this fact sheet, along with on-site assessment, technical assistance, and awareness in preventing secondary injuries. Fact sheets were developed with funding from NIFA, project number OHON0006.

Originally posted Mar 21, 2011.