Citrus workers resist ergonomic modifications to picking ladder.
J Agric Saf Health 1996 Feb; 2(1):7-15
The use of ergonomically modified picking ladders designed to increase the safety and comfort of citrus workers was investigated. Redesigned orchard picking ladders were introduced into citrus groves in Ventura County, California where fruit was picked by three crews of 70 Mexican farm workers (pizcadores). Ladder modifications included enlarged step areas, increased lateral step friction and a device to remove mud from the workers' boots. These modifications could support the entire foot, thereby improving stability and reducing fatigue while preventing slippage. The pizcadores were interviewed about the use of the modified ladders versus the traditional ladders. They resisted using the modified ladders due to human factors related to worker objectives, motivation, customs, and use of the existing piece rate compensation system. The workers explained that the primary reason for their current employment status was because they were willing to work in a difficult, stressful environment; hence, they were wary of any new engineering innovations due to the existing large labor surplus, believing that if such innovations would make their jobs easier, the management would probably reduce their pay or hire less costly workers. The authors suggest that such issues must be understood when attempting to design alternative tools and systems intended to improve worker health and safety.
Agricultural-workers; Worker-motivation; Ergonomics; Step-ladders; Group-behavior; Safety-research; Demographic-characteristics; Sociological-factors;
Author Keywords: Agricultural workers; Ladders; Citrus harvesting; Ergonomics; Safety
Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
University of California - Davis