Ergonomic Evaluation and Development of Best Practices for the Use of Mobile Work Platform Technology in Orchards

(WA State MAAF 2009-2011) The PNASH Center worked to 'design-in' safety measures into developing agricultural technologies, such as mobile platforms. Mobile platforms are self propelled and self guided all terrain vehicles with an adjustable height platform that carry a team of 4-8 workers through the orchard at very low speeds (<1 mph) allowing for rapid and repetitive hand work without the change in position or tasks associated with ladder work. This change, if not carefully researched and implemented, could have adverse health, safety, and economic outcomes.

This project evaluated new mobile platform technologies with regard to their impact on potential musculoskeletal disorders, safety risks, and productivity. We then developed best practice guidelines based on these results to inform the development and use of mobile platforms.