Migrant and seasonal orchard harvest workers experience musculoskeletal strain caused by carrying heavily loaded buckets and holding awkward postures. An ergonomic hip belt has been shown (both in this and previous studies) to significantly assist in redistributing weight from the shoulders to the hips. Two types of belt/bucket interfaces were tested: A hook belt with hooks on the buckets attaching to prepositioned D rings or a cable belt with hooks sliding a cable attached to the belt. A laboratory study of simulated harvesting postures showed significantly (p<0.001) reduced loading on the shoulder strap and greater transfer of the load to the hips using the cable belt. This was confirmed with significantly (p<0.05) reduced subjective ratings of shoulder discomfort for the cable belt as compared to the hook belt. Field testing with apple harvesters showed similar but nonsignificant results. This effect is hypothesized to be due to the cable belts more uniform distribution of load and greater flexibility in adjusting the position of the bucket on the belt. Relevance to industry: Improved belt/bucket interfaces have the potential for significantly reducing back and shoulder strain in apple harvesters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health