Evaluation of a community-based effort to reduce blueberry harvesting injury

Am J Ind Med. 2008 Apr;51(4):307-15. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20554.


Background: Harvesting of blueberries is associated with musculoskeletal injury. This study assessed the effects of several alternative designs of the harvesting rake.

Methods: A community-based work team selected rake design for intervention and pilot tested potential design modifications to the blueberry harvesting rake. An "extended" handle design was selected for comparison with the traditional short-handle rake. Tested rakes were of two widths (70 and 80 tines) and four handle lengths (short handle; extended: 10, 14, or 16 in.). Workers rated each of five configurations after 4 hr of use. Evaluators tracked qualitative and quantitative indicators of the community-based approach throughout.

Results: Data from 29 subjects were analyzed using two-factor analysis of variance. There was increased productivity (P = 0.041); greater acceptability (P < 0.0001); less force (P < 0.001); and less pain (P < 0.0001) with the extended handle designs. The 80 tine width was favored over the 70. Process evaluation identified problems that generally could be addressed. Outcome evaluation indicated successful achievement of all stated goals.

Conclusions: The "extended" handle rake may prove effective in reducing musculoskeletal injury associated with blueberry harvesting. A community-based approach to migrant farmworker injuries can be effective, particularly if employers participate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Agriculture*
  • Blueberry Plants*
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Transients and Migrants