Category Archives: Research

Strange Research 2016

This year I didn’t have it together to promote a strange research contest at work.  However, some American researchers clearly came up with a great fake article for April 1st, written by ‘Donald Trump’.  There are a lot of superlative platitudes without actually saying anything.  It is even better if you read it in this voice.

Originally from imgur.

Just the best, really.
Just the best, really.

Publications in 2015

Reaping what you sow
Reaping what you sow

Baby steps…

2015 involved a lot more data collection than 2014, so it seemed like there was less sitting around and writing articles. However, there were still a few, especially stemming from collaborations with others. There are also 8 others submitted and awaiting decisions.

I am very optimistic about 2016, when we’ll start publishing on all the farm data we collected last year… and 2016 already has a head start, with # 11 on this list!

  1. Clay, L., Milosavljevic, , Trask, C. (2015) Predicting whole body vibration exposure from occupational quad bike use in farmers. Safety 1(1) 79-83.  http://www.mdpi.com/2313-576X/1/1/71/html
  2. Taylor-Gjevre R., Nair B., Bath B., Stewart S., Arendse R., Naik L, Trask C., Penz E., Sharma M., Crockett K. (2015) Addressing Rural and Remote Access Disparities for Patients with Inflammatory Arthritis through Telehealth/Videoconferencing and Innovative Inter-professional Care Models. Journal of Rheumatology 42(7): 1332-1333.
  3. Pickett, W., King, N.; Trask C.; Michaelson, V., Marlenga, B., Hagel, L.; Dosman, J. for the Saskatchewan Farm Injury Study Team. (2015) Factors related to self-perceived health in rural men and women.  Journal of Agromedicine.  20(2):178-87  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1010063#.VcEDRE1zRnp
  4. Taylor-Gjevre , R.M., King, N., Trask, C., Koehncke , N., Injury Cohort Study Team. (2015) Prevalence and Occupational Impact of Arthritis in Saskatchewan Farmers.  Journal of Agromedicine.  20(2):205-16.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1009666
  5. McMillan, M., Trask, C. Dosman J., Hagel, L., Pickett, W. for the Saskatchewan Farm Injury Study Team (2015) Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among Saskatchewan farmers. Journal of Agromedicine. 20:292–301 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1042611
  6. Trask, C., Khan, M. I., Adebayo, O., Boden, C., Bath, B. (2015) Equity in who gets studied: Examining inequities in the low back disorder literature. Journal of Agromedicine.  20:273–281 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1042178
  7. Dosman, J., Hagel, L., King, N., Koehncke, N., Kirychuk, S., Trask, C., Neudorf, J., Day, L., Voaklander, D., Pickett, W. (2015) The hierarchy of control in the epidemic of farm injury Journal of Agromedicine. 20:360–369 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1048401
  8. Guarrasi, J., Trask, C., Kirychuk, S. (2015) A Systematic Review of Occupational Exposure to H2S in Livestock Operations. Journal of Agromedicine. 20(2): 224-235 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1059924X.2015.1009667
  9. Trask, C., Rostami, M., Mathiassen, S.E. (2015) Partly visible periods in posture observation from video: prevalence and effect on summary estimates of postures in the job. Applied Ergonomics. 49:63-69  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687015000186
  10. Milosavljevic, S., Clay, L., Bath, B., Trask, C., Penz, E., Stewart, S., Hendrick, P., Baxter, D.G.,  Hurley, D.A. and McDonough, S.A. (2015) Walking away from back pain: one step at a time – a community-based randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health. 15:1  doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1496-9 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/15/144/abstrac
  11. 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. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925753515002325

Last Farm Visit

The last visit was 3 degrees with snow on the ground. There I am filming in the cow field.
The last visit was 3 degrees with snow on the ground. There I am filming in the cow field.

The Farmers Back Study has been almost done for a long time now, but today we finished data collection for real!  We drove over clear roads in clear weather, but ended up spending the day in snow covered fields. I am glad the nice fall weather lasted long enough for us to finish up, I did not fancy driving grid roads in the snow.  Now we get to spend the indoor winter months processing and analyzing our data.  Fun times!

I held this guy when he was just a wee kitten back in July. Now Ic ould never get near him because he is too fast. But if you throw out some turkey bones, he'll come around.
I held this guy when he was just a wee kitten back in July. Now I could never get near him because he is too fast. But if you throw out some turkey bones, he’ll come around.

Workplace protection for children

 

“Our kids died living life on the farm. It is a family farm. We do not regret raising and involving our kids… on our farm,” he read. “It was our life.”

Combine emptying into a grain truck
Combine emptying into a grain truck.The grain pours out really fast, and the combine will be completely empty in a just couple of minutes.

This week 3 sisters died by grain engulfment in rural Alberta. This is undeniably terrible for their family, their community, and agriculture in general. This is also not a surprising nor unheard-of event, grain engulfment is a widely-acknowledged hazard in agriculture and transportation industries, and there are multiple campaigns to help workers stay safe during grain loading. Simply described, grain engulfment is drowning in grain, not being able to breathe or to free yourself from the heavy grain on top of you.  It can happen if you get stuck under an auger, behind a grain dump truck, or if grain stuck to the side of a bin comes down on top of you. This is not a peaceful floating-off kind of death, but rather several minutes of pain, choking, and struggle.

A combine emptying into a grain truck
A combine emptying into a grain truck

For this type of catastrophe to happen to kids is heartbreaking because it is predictable and preventable.  This has happened before many times, and just as before, the media is not doing a safety-oriented job of reporting it.  The Marshfield Clinic guidelines for reporting farm injuries and fatalities are clear, but see if you can spot where the narrative of this story deviates from the ideal:

  1. DO use the word ‘incident’ rather than ‘accident’
  2. DO describe the safety violations or prevention measures – this gives a fighting chance at a prevention message along with the catastrophe
  3. DO depict farming as an intense, high-risk industry
  4. DO emphasize the adult’s role in prevention
  5. DO NOT describe children as ‘loving to help’ – this gives the impression its OK to let children into industrial zones and near high-risk tasks
  6. DO NOT describe incidents as ‘completely unpredictable’ or ‘freak events’ – everyone should be aware of the hazards and risks of farm machinery, tasks, and environments
  7. DO NOT suggest that unsafe practices are ok because they are a ‘tradition’

Responding on the news story to a commenter that questioned having children around the workplace, Bott wrote: “This is our life. It is not sterile like city life.”

Many of the quotes and even the articles themselves seem to glamorize the earthy virtue of farming, without much critical thought around how this could be prevented. I understand that reporters are reluctant to criticize parents ‘when they are down’ and already grieving a terrible loss. However, I don’t think things can really get much worse for those parents no matter what is written, and I’m sure they would want other parents to avoid the type of grief they are going through. So reporters: don’t hold back!  Tell the safety story and ask experts for prevention quotes so that readers are left with a sense of purpose, not only a sense of loss.

I did find one article which addresses safety and the responsibility of adults here (in metro of all places).  I hope some folks hear the message and take action to prevent child deaths on farms.

The last of the farms

You know that saying, party till the cows come home?  Well, party’s over…

-Cattle Rancher

Cows coming in from the community pasture.
Cows coming in from the community pasture

So we have nearly completed the data collection for the Farmers Back Study – it’s been a long season! Since starting this study in March, we have had several adventures in rural Saskatchewan and seen a lot of ‘country stuff‘ along the way.

Me with the video camera. 20 degrees with a light breeze - not bad for early October.
Me with the video camera. 20 degrees with a light breeze – not bad for early October.

So far, we have measured about 50 people on 22 farms, involving dozens of different farm vehicles and at least 20 different farm tasks. This summer was busy enough that I am not that sad about the arrival of Fall (unusual for me). I will miss being out on the farms and visiting the farmers (and their cats), but it will be good to spend some time in the office and lab processing our mountains of data… and the students need to finish their theses sometime!

What will happent o this little catepillar once the last warm days are gone? Will she turn into a butterfly before then, or spend the winter in a coccoon, or just up and die?
What will happen to this little catepillar once the last warm days are gone? Will she turn into a butterfly before then, or spend the winter in a coccoon, or just up and die?

Bye bye farms

More Farm Visits

Old wooden granaries with day-glo canola behind
Old wooden granaries with day-glo canola behind

July sees the continuation of the Farmers Back Study, with second visits to most of our farms. This time of year we see spraying, swathing, baling, and maintenance tasks. Things aren’t too hectic, so we can also get in some Saskatoon berry picking. Most photos courtesy of X. Zeng.

Reaching for the high berries
Reaching for the high berries
Caught me red handed... murdering all those berries
Caught me red handed… murdering all those berries
Cute farm dog and his kitty friend
Cute farm dog and his kitty friend
Tiny barn kitten hides in the recycling.  I held this little guy - but not for long
Tiny barn kitten hides in the recycling. I held this little guy – but not for long
Rolling thunder...
Rolling thunder…
...pouring rain.  this is our trip home from the farm; we just missed getting rained on in the field.
…pouring rain. this is our trip home from the farm; we just missed getting rained on in the field.

Scenes from the farms

fff
That’s a message everyone can get behind!  Turns out this is about the mandate to sell via the Canadian Wheat Board

More views from the farms we’ve been visiting for research.

fff
Old truck, still in use (sometimes)
Big wheels!  This guy would kick ass at a monster truck rally
Big wheels! This guy would kick ass at a monster truck rally
Buffalo are raised commercially for meat.  Not sure how friendly they are, but pretty scenic
Buffalo are raised commercially for meat. Not sure how friendly they are, but pretty scenic
Although mostly prairie agriculture is grain and cattle, occasionally you get something interesting like alpacas.
Although mostly prairie agriculture is grain and cattle, occasionally you get something interesting like alpacas (my new website header!)

Research update 2015

Classic SK scene: grain bins, old wooden grain elevator, and a train (which we had to wait for as our route crossed the tracks minutes after this photo was taken).
Classic SK scene: grain bins, old wooden grain elevator, and a train (which we had to wait for as our route crossed the tracks minutes after this photo was taken).

It has been quite some time since I posted a research update, but a lot has been happening. Perhaps research business has been getting in the way of blog posting? Things have definitely slowed down in the blogging department. It may also be that I have now lived in Saskatoon in the same apartment for longer than I lived in my last 5 places, and things seem a little less shiny and new and worthy of comment.
Anyway.

Last October we hired a new Ergonomics Research Associate, a newly-minted PhD who has increased productivity on all fronts: publication, grant writing, data collection, and most specifically setting up the Ergonomics Lab. We have purchased nearly $200,000 worth of new equipment and by this time next year can be collecting data in our fully-functional lab. What good fortune to work with great people – something I have been really lucky with so far in Saskatoon. Hooray!

The first months of 2015 saw us pilot testing protocols for a 1-year field study of the risk factors for back disorders in Saskatchewan Farmers. Since I got back from Florida, we have been recruiting, scheduling visits, and heading out to local farms to meet the farmers and learn more about the work that they do. While I won’t publish photos of the farms and farmers that we visit due to research ethics, our trips often have us covering 400km per day so we get a lot of opportunity to see rural Saskatchewan in all its grid-road glory. These photos are taken from the road along our travels.  More to come during the summer!

A high-clearance sprayer.  this is a new fangled self-propelled machine designed to deliver fertilizer and pesticides.  Usually span about 100ft, and fold up for travel on country roads
A high-clearance sprayer. this is a new fangled self-propelled machine designed to deliver fertilizer and pesticides. Usually span about 100ft, and fold up for travel on country roads
Sheep out in a field
Sheep out in a field
More sheep
More sheep
A line of a dozen-odd harvesting machines - maybe 70 years old or more?  This farm clearly had the best collection in teh neighbourhood, enough that they seem to be forming their own themed windbreak.
A line of a dozen-odd harvesting machines – maybe 70 years old or more? This farm clearly had the best collection in the neighbourhood, enough that they seem to be forming their own themed windbreak. They almost look like a line of elephants marching up the hill

Publications in 2014

hhh
From a different point of view

I’m not sure if this is going to be miles ahead of 2013, but here are my publications for 2014.  Many more got submitted than last year, and for the first time many of them were not with me as the first author, but my students. Publications are an important part of academic performance, so showing some growth and momentum in this area is good for a junior researcher like me.  Here is the countdown:

  1. Pickett, W., King, N.; Trask C.; Michaelson, V., Marlenga, B., Hagel, L.; Dosman, J. for the Saskatchewan Farm Injury Study Team. (2015)  Factors related to self-perceived health in rural men and women.  Accepted for publication in the Journal of Agromedicine.
  2. Pickett, W., King, N.; Lawson, J.; Dosman, J.; Trask C.; Brison, R.; Hagel, L.; Janssen, I. for the Saskatchewan Farm Injury Study Team (2014)  Farmers, mechanized work, and links to obesity.  Preventative Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25448840
  3. Bath, B., Trask, C., McCrosky, J., Lawson, J. (2014) A biopsychosocial profile of adult Canadians with and without chronic back disorders. Accepted for publication in Biomed Research International, Manuscript ID 91962.  http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/919621/
  4. Trask, C., Kirychuk, S. (2014) Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Biomechanical Exposures in Intensive Swine Production. Journal of Agromedicine 19(2):245-246  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1059924X.2014.892851
  5. Trask C., Mathiassen S.E., Wahlström J., Forsman, M. (2014) Cost-efficient assessment of biomechanical exposure in occupational groups, exemplified by posture observation and inclinometry. Accepted for publication at the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health; http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=3416
  6. Bath, B., Trask, C., McCrosky, J., Lawson, J. (2014) Demographic and health characteristics of rural- and urban-dwelling Canadians with chronic back disorders: A population-based comparison. Accepted for publication in Spine.
  7. Guarrasi, J., Trask, C., Kirychuk, S. (2014) Prevalence and Occupational Impact of Arthritis in Saskatchewan Farmers.  Accepted for publication Journal of Agromedicine.
  8. Taylor-Gjevre , R.M.,  King, N., Trask, C., Koehncke , N., Injury Cohort Study Team. (2014) Prevalence and Occupational Impact of Arthritis in Saskatchewan Farmers.  Submitted to Journal of Agromedicine.

Also, there were another 5 submitted but not yet accepted, as well as a non-peer-reviewed publication:

  1. Trask, C., Bath, B., Busch, A., Boden, C., and Koehncke, N.  Prevalence and Risk Factors of, and Health Care Utilization for Low Back Disorders in Farmers: a Systematic Review Protocol.  PROSPERO: International prospective register of systematic reviews. (2014) Unique Identification number: CRD42014013247 Available from: http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.asp?ID=CRD42014013247#.U-08avmzFsE

Onward and upward!