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Forces required to operate controls on farm tractors: implications for young operators.

Authors
Fathallah-FA; Chang-JH; Berg-RL; Pickett-W; Marlenga-B
Source
Ergonomics 2008 Jul; 51(7):1096-1108
NIOSHTIC No.
20034581
Abstract
Farm tractors account for the majority of fatal injuries to adolescents working in agriculture and therefore remain a leading occupational priority. The question of whether these injuries occur because adolescents are assigned tractor jobs beyond their physical capabilities has not been answered. The purpose of this study was to estimate the activation forces required to operate controls on 40 tractors in common use in the US and compare them with existing estimates of physical strength for children of varying ages and with recommended ergonomic force limits for repeatedly engaging controls. Activation forces for steering, brakes and clutch were measured on each tractor. The main study finding was that the activation forces required to operate tractors typically exceeded the physical abilities of most children aged 13 to 17 years. This raises serious questions about the ability of children to safely operate tractors in common use on US farms. This study provides an ergonomic approach for evaluating the potential mismatch between young people's strength capabilities and forces required in operating farm tractors. This approach could be used in similar situations where adolescents may operate vehicles (e.g. all-terrain vehicles), machinery or other mechanical devices requiring activation of levers and controls. Study findings potentially inform the establishment of occupational policies surrounding tractor operation by young people.
Keywords
Safety-climate; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Force; Body-mechanics; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Musculoskeletal-system; Ergonomics; Farmers; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Tractors; Drivers; Age-factors
CODEN
ERGOAX
Publication Date
20080701
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
fathallah@libertymutual.com
Funding Type
Grant; Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
2008
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-007850; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U50-OH-008107; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U54-OH-009568
Issue of Publication
7
ISSN
0014-0139
Source Name
Ergonomics
State
CA; WI
Performing Organization
University of California, Davis
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