BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE. A high risk of musculoskeletal disorders is associated with hand harvesting of crops, due to repetitive motions, lifting or carrying of heavy loads, and working in flexed trunk postures. A paucity of research exists on ergonomic risks to tomato farmworkers while the available studies have estimated risk based on self-reports of injury and semi-quantitative measures of risk.
METHODS. A partnership between East Tennessee State University and a migrant health center (Rural Medical Services) has identified and addressed some of the occupational health needs of this population. With the aid of surface electromyography (sEMG), an objective-quantitative tool, a more refined understanding of ergonomic health risks for this population will be developed. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the muscular load and fatigue induced on the anterior deltoid and upper trapezius muscles during three tasks: driving stakes into the ground, tying of tomatoes to stakes, and hoisting of a 35-pound bucket full of tomatoes. Space for a mock test plot, where the study will be conducted, is available at the ETSU’s Valleybrook facility. Muscle activity recordings will be obtained from 15 tomato farmworkers. Spectral analysis and the amplitude probability distribution function (APDF) will be used to assess fatigue and muscular load respectively. A repeated measures ANOVA will be employed.
ANTICIPATED RESULTS. The findings of this study should show that localized muscle loading increases muscle fatigue. Neuromuscular demand would vary, depending on the type of task performed. Stake pounding may show a higher neuromuscular demand than the other tasks.
AIM 1. Evaluate the magnitude of muscle activity during three simulated tomato-field tasks and assess the intensity of acceleration during the stake pounding task.
AIM 2. Compare estimates of muscular fatigue and muscle load induced on the anterior deltoid and upper trapezius muscles during three simulated tomato-field tasks.