Category Archives: Research

Front page

Screen shot of the webpage

It turns out being on the front page of the University website is considered a bigger deal than the local paper – which I found this week. There were WAY more comments about the web article than anything from the Star-Phoenix or Leader-Post!

In the news

Catherine Trask (right) and Xiaoke Zeng (left) use a device to study famers’ exposure to body vibrations. (photo by David Stobbe for the University of Saskatchewan)

My student Xiaoke Zeng and I were in the Saskatoon newspaper to talk about some research results from the Farmers Back Study.  I thought the journalist did a nice job of making the science understandable – let me know if it made sense to you!

Looks like it got picked up by MedXpress and Regina Leader-Post as well.

Catherine Trask (right) and Xiaoke Zeng study farmers’ exposure to body vibrations (photo by David Stobbe). Credit: University of Saskatchewan


A bit  late to the party, but I started a twitter account and that is where many of my work photos and news is ending up these days.  Even if you don’t have twitter, you can see my feed on the ErgoLab website.  If I post less on this blog, you’ll know why!

Research Report 2016

Team photo after data collection in a swine barn
Team photo after data collection in a swine barn

While it wasn’t an easy year in many arenas, research-wise 2016 went pretty well.  Things have been quiet on this blog because I have been posting most of the research news over on my U of S Lab website. I also started a twitter account, and you don’t need to sign up to read the updates on Twitter or on the ErgoLab homepage.  There were some exciting awards and accomplishments of my students highlighted there.

In 2016 I was lucky enough to get grant funding from WCB Saskatchewan, Heritage Canada, U of S Department of Medicine, CIHR, Mitacs, and WorkSafeBC.  We had a great conference in Toronto for the Canadian Association for Research in Work and Health, and I will spend the next 2 years acting as the president for that organization (planning the 2018 conference now!)

Here are the year’s articles:

  1. Zeng, X., Kociolek AM, Khan MI, Milosavljevic S, Bath B, Trask C. (2016) Whole Body Vibration Exposure Patterns in Canadian Prairie Farmers. Ergonomics p 1-22
  2. Wahlström, J., Bergsten, E., Trask, C., Jackson, J., Forsman, M., Mathiassen, S.E. (2016) Full-shift trunk and upper arm postures and movements among aircraft baggage handlers. Annals of Occupational Hygiene. 60(8): 977-990
  3. King, N., Pickett, W., Hagel, L., Dosman, J., Trask,C., Jansson, I. for the Saskatchewan Farm Injury Cohort Study Team. (2016) Identifying and mitigating risks for agricultural injury associated with obesity. Injury Prevention. 7(4):220-224
  4. Trask, C., Bath, B., Johnson, P., Teschke, K. (2016) Risk Factors for Low Back Disorders in Saskatchewan Farmers: Building a Foundation for Epidemiological Studies. Journal of Medical Internet Research-Research Protocols. 5(2)
  5. Essien, S., Bath, B., Koehncke, N., Trask, C. (2016) Association between whole body vibration and low back disorder in farmers: a cohort study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 58(6): 212-217
  6. Hagel, L., King, N., Dosman, J. A., Lawson, J., Trask, C., Pickett, W., & Saskatchewan Farm Injury Cohort Study Team. (2016). Profiling the safety environment on Saskatchewan farms. Safety science, 82, 103-110.

With a few accepted that will be published next year:

  1. Heiden, Garza, Trask, Mathiassen (2016) Predicting directly measured trunk and upper arm postures in paper mill work from administrative data, workers’ ratings and posture observations Accepted for publication in BMC Medical Research Methodology, BMRM-D-16-00190
  2. Zeng, X., Trask C., Kociolek A. Whole-body Vibration Exposure of Occupational Horseback Riding in Agriculture: a Ranching Example. Submitted to: American Journal of Industrial Medicine; 2016; Manuscript ID: AJIM-16-0100.
  3. Trask, C., Rostami, M., Mathiassen, S.E., Heiden, M. (2016) Observer variability in posture assessment from video recordings: the effect of partly visible periods. Accepted for publication in: Applied Ergonomics. Manuscript # JERG-D-16-00133.

U of S also awarded me tenure this year, so now I can tell them what I REALLY think.  🙂



TV! Again


On Thursday I went downtown to the studio again  to speak about the ongoing study Walking away from chronic low back pain, and how walking can help with low back pain. Since farmers may have decreased access to hands-on care, a self-management intervention like walking can be particularly useful to them.
To view the segments, go to the Farmgate media site and pick the episode from October 29, 2016.  My collegue Debra Morgan’s segment starts at 12:20; mine is at 14:30.

Bear hug!

WHUT?!? I was so surprised and impressed to get this guyon my latte #suckitstarbucks
WHUT?!? I was so surprised and impressed to see this guy on my latte #suckitstarbucks

Sometimes right when you think ‘I need a hug’, one arrives.  This has been a biiiiiiiig work week – Almost 50 hours done before I woke up Friday morning.  Today I had felt I had enough time  to go get a coffee with a friend (to drink in my office, natch).  The latte came with this little bear hug in the cup.  Aw!

A friend joked with me when I got tenure (PS, my tenure and promotion application was accepted after all) that now it was time to coast because now the University is ‘stuck with me!’
However, it has not worked out that way at all.

I applied for a lot of grants, never thinking that they would all get funded. Not all of them did, but more than I expected. This is nothing to complain about, it is a wonderful vote of confidence from the funding agency and a great boost to the productivity of my research program. BUT it is a lot of projects and students and data collection and management… which means not a lot of paddling and yoga and visiting and art and travel and reading (fun stuff).

Jack wasn't dull at all, he was homicidal.
Jack wasn’t dull at all, he was homicidal.

So I feel a little hard-done-by, complicated by the fact that I chose this kind of career (back up job of fitness instructor not off the table) and then chose to have a million projects and students, and also chose to be in my office for 50 hours and not go out paddling this week.
I DID IT TO MYSELF!    …and that’s why it really hurts.

For some people, ‘doing it to yourself’ might preclude complaining, but NOT ME.  Luckily or unluckily, I am not shy or constrained by gender norms to a degree that I can’t have a grump-out in this sea of ivory-tower privilege.  If you want me I’ll be smoking a melancholic cigarette to pass my ennui (just kidding I’ll be reviewing student papers and doing some stats).

Life is chat
Life is chat

More TV

Old wooden granaries with day-glo canola behind

Our lab made it onto the weekly agricultural farm program, Farm Gate.  Check out the link here and select ‘May 7 2016’ on the right hand side.  If you don’t want to hear about moisture levels and germination rates, skip to 6:38.

ErgoLab on TV!

Interview with CTV. Watching yourself talk shows you how many ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ you make. 🙁

Ergo Lab open house went great, though it was a lot of work to prepare for so I think everyone is happy that it is over.  CTV sent out a news crew, and the John Deere company magazine (The Furrow) sent a reporter/photographer, though that article won’t be out until August.

The lab group on open house day.  Great looking group!
The lab group on open house day

Ergonomics Link

Screen cap of the website
Screen cap of the website

Last week our new Ergonomics Lab website went live… let me know if you see anything awry and I’ll endeavour to fix it.  On May 5th we will have an open house to welcome partners and collaborators to see demonstrations in the lab.  It has been a long time coming to complete the renovations and order/commission all the equipment so that the lab can be operational; up to now it has mostly been a base for us to do work in the field.

This is a milestone; just last week we got our first (small) grant for lab-based research, which will be conducted this summer.  It has been a lot of work by a lot of people to get things to this point, so we are looking forward to some good productivity coming up.

Vote online for Research Photo Contest!


Photos taken during last summers farm visits.
Photos taken during last summers farm visits.

Hello Reader(s)!  One of my graduate students has submitted a photo to a research photo contest here at the University, and you can vote online!  The photo is called: Cattle Ranching on horseback: a bumpy ride.  Here is the description of the photo:

This picture shows a typical cattle ranching scene: a farmer rounding up cattle from the paddock into the corral using a horse. What is less obvious in this image is that sensors have been mounted on the saddle surface where vibration, bumps, and jolts are transmitted to the farmer. Vibration from vehicles and machinery is known to be a risk factor for low back disorder, and such vibration is commonly experienced by farmers on agricultural equipment including tractors, combines, all-terrain vehicles, and even horses. This is the first study that evaluated the whole-body vibration level on different farm equipment in Saskatchewan, and to our knowledge the first to measure vibration from horses.

Vote on the U of S photo contest website!