Changes in working conditions and health among dairy farmers in southern Sweden.A 14-year follow-up.
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Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Biosystems and Technology, Division of Work Science, Alnarp, Sweden
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Stefan Pinzke   

Researcher Stefan Pinzke, PhD, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,Department of Agricultural Biosystems and Technology, Division of Work Science, PO Box 88, SE-230 53Alnarp, Sweden.
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2003;10(2):185-195
The objective of this study was to describe and analyse the changes inworking conditions and health among dairy farmers in Scania in southern Sweden during the period 1988-2002by a repeat of a mail-in survey. Altogether, 83 % of the male and 90 % of the female dairy farmers reportedsome kind of symptoms in the musculoskeletal system during the 12 months prior to the 2002 questionnaire.This is an increase compared to the farmers in 1988. The highest significant changes were an increaseof symptoms in the shoulder, neck and in the wrists/hands. The milkers reported most often incidentalas well as persistent symptoms in the shoulders. The frequency of hip symptoms was significantly higheramong those male milkers who had quit milking during the interim than for the active milkers in 1988.The milkers studied in 2002 had, on average, increased their working time per week, increased the numberof cows milked as well as the use of more milking units. In 1988, almost all the milkers studied wereworking in tethering systems while in 2002 more than one quarter were working in loose-housing systems.The opinion among most of the farmers, both in 1988 and in 2002, regardless of age or sex, was that silagehandling and the milking procedure were the most strenuous work operations. On the other hand, the milkersobtained their greatest pleasure from the actual milking job as well as from their work to promote thewelfare of the animals. Unprofitability and great investment demands had a bearing on the retirementof milkers but, on the other hand, a high potential of the milkers could have continued 10-15 more yearsas dairy farmers if the work conditions had been better, e.g. associated with fewer health problems.Apart from the need for developing technical devices to facilitate the milking operation, further researchis needed concerning the dairy farmers' well-being and quality of life, perceived stress, and leisuretime activities and how these and similar factors influence the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms.Strategies for preventive and intervention measures must consider physical workplace factors as wellas personal and lifestyle characteristics.
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