Poster Title

Ergonomic Risk Factors of Agricultural Jobs in Western Kentucky

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Secondary School

Major

Occupational Safety and Health

Institution

Murray State University

Department

Occupational Safety and Health

Abstract

The prevalence of ergonomic injuries in the agriculture industry is magnified in jobs that are labor intensive. Tobacco is one of the primary agricultural products of Western Kentucky. As most tobacco is grown on small farms, harvesting tasks are typically performed by temporary manual labor. The purpose of the study was to assess the ergonomic risks of tobacco harvesters to other labor-intensive agricultural jobs such as reforestation and dairy farm work. Muscle activity of the left and right upper trapezius and middle deltoid of 10 subjects while cutting and spiking tobacco plants was measured using electromyography (EMG). Inertial measurement units (IMU) were also used to characterize posture of workers while cutting and spiking tobacco plants. Initial findings indicate that tobacco harvesting for all muscle groups workers were at or below 25% MVC for 93% of the work cycle. Other agriculturally based studies have shown similar results. Although the workers are not approaching maximum voluntary contraction, job activities are highly repetitive and are considered to be a contributing factor in the development of musculoskeletal disorders in agricultural workers.

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Ergonomic Risk Factors of Agricultural Jobs in Western Kentucky

The prevalence of ergonomic injuries in the agriculture industry is magnified in jobs that are labor intensive. Tobacco is one of the primary agricultural products of Western Kentucky. As most tobacco is grown on small farms, harvesting tasks are typically performed by temporary manual labor. The purpose of the study was to assess the ergonomic risks of tobacco harvesters to other labor-intensive agricultural jobs such as reforestation and dairy farm work. Muscle activity of the left and right upper trapezius and middle deltoid of 10 subjects while cutting and spiking tobacco plants was measured using electromyography (EMG). Inertial measurement units (IMU) were also used to characterize posture of workers while cutting and spiking tobacco plants. Initial findings indicate that tobacco harvesting for all muscle groups workers were at or below 25% MVC for 93% of the work cycle. Other agriculturally based studies have shown similar results. Although the workers are not approaching maximum voluntary contraction, job activities are highly repetitive and are considered to be a contributing factor in the development of musculoskeletal disorders in agricultural workers.