Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Workplace Health and Safety Information—Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

Orchard Ergonomics

The prototype is being testing by the Bruneau family of Middlefield Orchards Dumping Picking

Research conducted by Giulia Earle-Richardson, PhD found that back strain was the most common injury among orchard workers. A follow up study concluded that using an ergonomic hip belt in combination with the picking bucket transferred weight from the back to the hips.

The Northeast Center's research was used to develop a picking bucket prototype. The new system featured two detachable, padded bags, suspended from a harness which has both shoulder straps and a hip belt for better weight distribution. Better balance was achieved by dividing the weight on each side, allowing for more comfortable body movements, as well as having the advantage of pre-sorting fruit.

The two bags have a combined capacity of 40lbs and are constructed of rip stop nylon around a steel frame. The bags have half an inch of foam padding to prevent bruising and lever release rope tensioners for gentle emptying.

While the product was not largely manufactured, the protoype tested sucessfully in the field and can be used by individuals who wish to develop a similar system for picking.