An ergonomic intervention to reduce back strain among apple harvest workers in New York State

Appl Ergon. 2005 May;36(3):327-34. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2004.12.003.


The impact of modifications to the apple picking bucket on common picking postures, self-reported comfort, ease of use, and speed of harvest were measured. Fourteen apple pickers wore an intervention hip belt, were interviewed and measured using posture-activities-tools-handling methodology. The use of hip belt did not significantly alter time spent in various postures. 78.6% of interviewed workers preferred the modified bag, 71.4% noted a difference in the back, neck, or shoulder, while 64.3% said regular use of modified bag would slow their work. Major themes in worker comments are discussed. The hip belt modification to apple harvest bag seems generally acceptable to workers, but needs further development to overcome unintended effects. Although work sampling demonstrates that the bag does not affect work practices, workers appear somewhat concerned that productivity will be negatively impacted. Further training of workers in the use and potential benefits of bag are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Agriculture / instrumentation*
  • Back Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Equipment Design
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York
  • Occupational Health
  • Pilot Projects
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Transients and Migrants