Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

Subject Categories

Agricultural laborers -- Health and hygiene; Family farms -- New York (State); Human mechanics;


Agricultural work is a hazardous occupation, leading to fatalities and life-altering injuries. Due to a lack in regulations requiring farmers to report their injuries, an accurate estimate of the amount of farmers working with injuries is unavailable. Literature on small-scale farmers' awareness of proper body mechanics and assistive technology is scarce. This nonexperimental survey study was designed a) to investigate small-scale farmers' awareness of these two concepts in order to identify the possible needs of this population; b) to identify what techniques or adaptations farmers may currently be implementing; and c) to analyze whether age, ethnicity, education, or years of farming experience had an impact on the farmers' awareness of these concepts. Fifty-seven participants fully completed a questionnaire that was distributed to farmers included on the email list serves of Groundswell, Cornell Small Farms Program, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE)- Tompkins County division, as well as in-person to farmers in attendance at a meeting hosted at the CCE-Tompkins County headquarters. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, with mean and standard deviation, and comparative analyses. Results of this exploratory study indicated that small farmers demonstrated an understanding of basic body mechanics, but showed inconsistencies with the implementation of this knowledge. Additionally, participants of the study expressed a lack of awareness of assistive technology, but reported utilizing personal protective equipment. Finally, statistical significance was found from the analysis of the effects of age, educational level, and years of farming experience on awareness and receptiveness of proper body mechanics and assistive technology. Based on these results, some small-scale farmers may benefit from enhanced education regarding these concepts from occupational therapists.



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