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Work. 2012;41 Suppl 1:1234-8. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2012-0308-1234.

Ergonomic basket design to reduce cumulative trauma disorders in tea leaf plucking operation.

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Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, Assam, India.


Work related musculoskeletal disorders are seen as an indicating parameter of occupational stress among the women workers engaged in tea leaf plucking operation. The hand plucking (no mechanized plucking is practiced in Assam) being a highly repetitive task requires forceful exertions to reach to the distant periphery of the tea bushes and mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces). Specifically it aggravates with awkward positions adopted. The current research addresses to minimize the risk factors associated with CTDs and to ascertain the role of ergonomic design development in improving the situation. Women workforce engaged in tea industry in Assam suffer from back, shoulder, arm and finger pains. Workers perform the activity for 440 minutes in the entire shift with one hour lunch break in between in the garden itself. An ergonomic investigation aiming at studying the strain index of plucking operation in tea industry was conducted. While performing the operation workers were found to assume unnatural posture which is static as well as highly dynamic with a load (tea leaf collecting basket up to weight of 30 kg when filled with plucked leaves) at back. With gradual increment of load and pain though the load is released intermittently the strain level found to remain at a high level. The total QEC scores found for plucking activity was 110 out of 138. To improve the situation and to reduce the work related upper limb disorder (WRULD) an ergonomically designed basket was conceived and trial results showed improvements. The newly designed plucking basket fits the back curvature of the workers well, which keeps the basket in place unlike the existing round basket. The new basket is light in weight having more leaf capacity. Significant reduction in energy expenditure and MSDs suffered was observed while using improved basket over existing basket.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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