Well Positioned For Aches And Pains: Ergonomics And Farriers

RASP EXAMINATION. Dr. Phyllis King and graduate student Heath R. Klauer look over a rasp as they conduct an ergonomic analysis of horseshoeing work.

You don't need an ergonomics expert to tell you that being a horseshoer involves some aches and pain. Your sore back, swollen and aching wrists and numb fingers send that message to you much more clearly than any study ever will.

But what might surprise you is just how many of the things that you do in your every day shoeing work, as well as using various tools and techniques contribute to those aches and pains.

Recently, American Farriers Journal editors invited Dr. Phyllis King, an associate professor of occupational therapy and campus ergonomics coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to look at the job of shoeing horses from an ergonomically correct point of view. 

Not surprisingly, King’s preliminary research found farriers day-to-day work puts them at serious risk of injury by a combination of factors including strain, awkward posture, repetitive motions, impact force and problems caused by tools that are rarely designed according to ergonomic principles.

On-The-Job Observation  

King oversees the studies and work of 14 students in a graduate-level certification program that operates out of a recently opened state-of-the-art lab on the campus. She and graduate student Heath R. Klauer spent a morning observing Richfield, Wis., farrier Todd Gillis as he worked in a boarding barn a few miles north of Milwaukee. In addition to watching Gillis work, the researchers measured and analyzed farrier…

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