Harvesting Muscle Strain
Epidemiology – Smaller Orchards
Research by the Northeast Center found that muscle strain conditions are by far the most common health problem seen in among orchard workers at eastern migrant health centers (Brower et al., 2009; Earle-Richardson et al., 2008).
(from: Fulmer et al., 2002; Earle-Richardson et al., 2004)
A. Tree size varies widely, impacts muscle strain risk
Dwarf (6′ high) trees
- 19% of production*
- Less reaching overhead
- More bending / kneeling
- Support-wire hazard
- Doesn’t require ladders
Semi-dwarf (8′-9′) trees
- 50% of production*
- Apples are farther apart than dwarf trees – more reaching
- Reaching and full bag strap on neck can cause strain.
Standard (20′-23′) trees
- 29% of production*
- Much more ladder climbing
- More reaching
- Reaching with apples in bag
- More ladder lift and moving
- Fall hazard greater
*2007 census of Agriculture
B. Back and shoulder most commonly involved in orchard worker muscle strain
Mid-lower back, shoulder and upper back comprise 71% of orchard worker muscle strain
(7-state NEC study, 2003)
- NIOSH Simple Solutions for Farmworkers and Texas Department of Insurance, Safe Lifting
- NYCAMH/MCN CUIDATE! !Guia de ejercicios para el cuidado de tu cuerpo en el trabajo.
- NYCAMH/MCN Watch Out! Exercise guide for protecting your body during farm work.