Take A Break from the Shake: Development and Evaluation of Interventions for Farm Machinery Operators to Improve Musculoskeletal and Cognitive Health

Study Description

This study is being undertaken by the University of Saskatchewan School of Rehabilitation Science and Canadian Centre for the Health & Safety in Agriculture. This study is funded by Agrivita Canada, Mitacs, and the College of Medicine.  

Background Information 

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous occupations in Canada. The number of fatal and preventable injuries or near misses (slips, trips, and/or falls) and hospitalizations in agriculture is still very high despite increased mechanization.  

Machinery use in agriculture exposes farmers to vibrations during operation. Excessive levels of vibration exposure can lead to disturbances in reaction time and balance, as well as increase the risk of developing low back and neck pain.  

The goal of this study is to determine whether a variety of short rest and activity breaks while using farm machinery can reduce these effects.  

How to Get Involved

Participants will be asked to participate in: 

  • A pre-study questionnaire about current agricultural machinery safety practices (approx. 45mins long) 
  • 1 day of on-farm evaluation during your normal in-field machinery operation activities including: 
    • Measuring balance and reaction time at the beginning of your working day before machinery use 
    • Performing selected rest break activities throughout the working day, which will include bouts of up to 4 hours of machinery use 
    • Measuring balance and reaction time after each rest break activity
  • A follow-up interview (approx. 1 hour long). 


All measurements will take place at the participant’s farm during their normal working activities. Researchers will be on-site for 1 day to perform balance and reaction time measurements multiple times during the working day. These measurements can be done on level ground in the field if necessary. All rest break activities can be performed in-field when machinery is safely parked.  

 Are you Eligible to Participate? 

  • 18 years and older 
  • No work-related injuries within the past 6 months 
  • Agricultural producers who are currently using agricultural machinery 

All participant responses and data will remain confidential.  

For more information, contact:

Dr Dena Burnett dena.burnett@usask.ca or 306-241-8727 

Dr Stephan Milosavljevic stephan.milosavljevic@usask.ca or 306-361-1859