Comparisons of physical exposure between workers harvesting apples on mobile orchard platforms and ladders, part 2: Repetitive upper arm motions

Appl Ergon. 2020 Nov;89:103192. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2020.103192. Epub 2020 Jul 29.


Farmworkers are exposed to physical risk factors including repetitive motions. Existing ergonomic assessment methods are primarily laboratory-based and, thus, inappropriate for use in the field. This study presents an approach to characterize the repetitive motions of the upper arms based on direct measurement using accelerometers. Repetition rates were derived from upper arm inclination data and with video recordings in the field. This method was used to investigate whether harvesting with mobile platforms (teams harvesting apples from the platform and the ground) increased the farmworkers' exposure to upper arm repetitive motions compared to traditional harvesting using ladders. The ladder workers had higher repetitive motions (13.7 cycles per minute) compared to the platform and ground workers (11.7 and 12.2 cycles per minutes). The higher repetitions in the ladder workers were likely due to their ability to work independently and the additional arm movements associated with ladder climbing and walking.

Keywords: Accelerometer; Agriculture; Productivity; Repetition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / etiology
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / prevention & control
  • Agriculture / instrumentation*
  • Agriculture / methods
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / prevention & control
  • Ergonomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malus
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology
  • Work / physiology*
  • Young Adult