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Hand Problems in Migrant Farmworkers

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 15(2): 157-169. (doi: 10.13031/2013.26802) @2009
Authors:   D. J. Shah, E. M. Shipp, S. P. Cooper, J. C. Huber, D. J. del Junco, A. A. Rene, J. S. Moore
Keywords:   Agriculture, Family, Farmworkers, Hand pain, Hand symptoms, Hispanics, Migrants, Multilevel mixed effects regression, Musculoskeletal disorders, Upper extremity disorders, Starr County, Texas

Purpose: We estimated the self-reported prevalence of hand problems and identified factors associated with them in this cross-sectional study including 390 farmworkers representing 180 migrant farmworker families from Starr County, Texas. Methods: A two-year cohort study (1999-2001), Injury and Illness Surveillance in Migrant Farmworkers (MANOS), provided the data for this study. We calculated the prevalence for the two-year follow-up period, stratified by family member and survey year. The associated work and non-work factors were identified for the entire sample using multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression analysis. Results: Prevalence for hand problems was 29.0% and 17.8% for the first and second study years, respectively. Significant factors (associated odds ratios) included increasing age (1.07), female gender (3.49), duration of sleep while migrating (0.68), participation group working in both study years 1 and 2 (0.21) or year 2 only (0.14), working on average more than 11 hours per day (8.23), moving heavy objects at work (3.97), working with hand-held vibrating tools/machinery (5.16), and working in meat processing (40.48). Conclusions: The prevalence of hand problems in migrant farmworkers reported by this study was notable for mothers, fathers, and children. Further research with refined ergonomic exposure and outcome assessments for investigating hand injuries in migrant farmworkers is indicated, specifically among youth. The role of sleep in preventing symptoms should also be explored.

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