The majority of reforestation in the southeastern United States is achieved using hand planting methods. Previous research suggests a high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and other symptoms among hand planters as a result of exposure to physical risk factors while hand planting. The design of hand planting tools has been posited as a potential means to reduce exposures to physical risk factors among hand planters. This study compared exposures to directly measured physical risk factors including forceful muscular exertions (collected using surface electromyography), non-neutral postures (collected using an upper body inertial measurement unit system), and workload (collected using a heart rate monitor) among 14 novice hand planters using four different “dibble bar” planting tools commonly used by southeastern planters. Results indicated no statistically significant differences between the tools, suggesting that minor differences in tool design may play an insignificant role on exposures to physical risk factors among novice hand planters relative to other factors. The characterizations of exposure described here provide additional evidence of the job demands hand planters are exposed to during planting.
Granzow, Robert; Schall, Mark C.; Smidt, Mathew; Davis, Jerry; Sesek, Richard; Gallagher, Sean. 2019. Measuring the effect of tool design on exposure to physical risk factors among novice hand planters. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 63(1): 1013-1017. https://doi.org/10.1177/1071181319631091.