Overhead work and shoulder-neck pain in orchard farmers harvesting pears and apples

Ergonomics. 1995 Apr;38(4):700-6. doi: 10.1080/00140139508925141.


The effects of overhead work were studied by comparing orchard farmers' musculoskeletal symptoms while bagging pears with those same symptoms while bagging apples. The subjects were 52 Japanese female farmers, who were examined twice an evening in late June for bagging pears, and during another evening of late July for bagging apples, when each task had been almost finished. They were questioned about musculoskeletal complaints of stiffness and pain during each job, and examined for muscle tenderness and pain from joint movement. Arm elevation angles during the work were measured for each type of bagging. The prevalence of stiffness and pain in the neck and shoulder, muscle tenderness in the shoulder regions, and pain in neck motion were found to be significantly higher when bagging pears than apples. Musculoskeletal symptoms of parts other than the neck and shoulder did not differ between the two types of bagging. The working posture of elevating the arm more than 90 degrees was assumed to account for 75% of the time bagging pears, against 40% for bagging apples. Overhead work requiring arm elevation and head extension was considered to be closely related with shoulder-neck disorders among farmers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology*