Ergonomic Safety

Agriculture workers often engage in tasks that are repetitive and strenuous. These tasks include pruning, picking, and weeding, as well as lifting objects. Workers who perform these tasks are at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, including repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, tenosynovitis, and bursitis, all of which can impede a worker’s ability to perform agricultural tasks.

The goal of the science of ergonomics is to find a best fit between a worker and his or her job conditions. Ergonomic assessments consider the physical capabilities and limitations of the human body in relation to a person’s work tasks, tools used, and job environment. With this information in hand, such an assessment can come up with safety solutions designed to keep workers uninjured as well as productive. This page discusses ergonomic hazards and solutions in agricultural employment.

Ergonomic Hazards

Agriculture workers perform tasks such as baling, planting, canning, watering, and fertilizing. These tasks frequently involve hazards that include:

  • Working in a stooped or bent position;
  • Carrying heavy weights in awkward positions;
  • Frequent kneeling, climbing, or reaching;
  • Working with arms above the shoulder level;
  • Repetitive wrist and hand movement; and
  • Vibration from farm equipment.

Such hazards can cause sprains, strains, and back, neck, shoulder, hand, and foot pain.

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