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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Student’s new design for vet’s tool belt to reduce shoulder pain & injuries

A new design for a vet’s tool belt – which is the brainchild of a second-level student in the south of the country – aims to reduce repetitive stress disorders in vets, namely reducing shoulder pain and injuries.

John Buckley from Hamilton High School in Bandon, Co. Cork, has been nationally recognised for his “innovative and forward-thinking” project, which focused on the ‘investigation of a prototype tool belt to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in vets’.

During the course of his project, which was selected as the overall winner of the ABP Farm Safety Award at the 2023 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) in January of this year, he carried out research which revealed shoulder issues in 59% of 114 vets surveyed.

The unnatural motion of removing tools from a standard vet’s belt, located around the waist, particularly in the course of repetitive tasks such as TB testing, is a likely contributor to shoulder pain and injuries in vets, he explained.

John’s newly designed vet tool belt, which is located around the thigh, will allow for minimised shoulder and arm movements, ensuring a quicker and more ergonomic action when reaching for the belt, he explained.

John field-tested his new belt with a local veterinary clinic, who reported it was “much easier to use”, “definitely minimises shoulder movement”, and that they “will continue to use the belt from now on”.

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Aodhán McEntee, a specialist physiotherapist, believes John’s belt “may reduce the risk of rotator cuff overuse injuries”.

Farm safety

For the ninth consecutive year, ABP Food Group has sponsored the Farm Safety category, which year-on-year has produced ground-breaking projects from students across the country.

A spokesperson for ABP Food Group commented:

“The area of farm safety is a priority for ABP, and it is an issue that is still prevalent in Ireland today.”

“In 2022, 12 people in the farming sector were killed in work-related accidents according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), accounting for 46% of all Irish workplace-related deaths during the year.”

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is one of the largest and longest-running STEM events in the world.

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