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Am J Ind Med. 2002 Aug;Suppl 2:3-9.

Ergonomic exposures in apple harvesting: preliminary observations.

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Department of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts 01854, USA.



Recent research on occupational injury to apple harvest workers in New York and Pennsylvania indicates that muscle strain is one of their leading problems. A descriptive study of ergonomic risks for strains of the shoulder and lower back among apple harvesters was carried out to identify opportunities for intervention.


Based upon pilot observation in four orchards, a Posture-Activities-Tools-Handling (PATH) data collection template was designed and used to analyze the work of fifty-one workers in eight additional apple orchards.


Physical loading on the shoulder appears to result from three major factors: reaching to pick apples with elbows over shoulder height; downward pressure from the bucket's strap in contact with the collarbone; and strain from carrying the ladder. Strain to the back appeared to come from three circumstances: static, awkward picking postures; bending to empty the picking bucket into the bin; and supporting a full load of the apples with the lower back.


Possible intervention strategies are suggested, with emphasis on direct communication and active involvement on the part of the growers and harvesters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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