NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-93-1031-2521, C and D Corporation, DeBlois, Maine.

Tanaka S; Fairfield-Estill C; Wild DK
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 93-1031-2521, 1995 Aug; :1-30
In response to a request from the Maine Department of Human Services, an investigation was undertaken of raker's tendinitis among seasonal harvesters who raked wild blueberries in Maine for the C and D Corporation (SIC-0171) located in DeBlois, Maine. Workers comb through low lying bush (less than 10 inches high) with hand held metal rakes to scoop up the berries, lift the rake, and tilt it to pour the berries into the container. This action is repeated many times in an hour and the working period may last up to 8 or more hours a day. In the 1993 harvest for this company, 1,300 rakers were hired. A convenience sample of 134 rakers was recruited on site over a 3 day period in August. The median age was 30 years. Almost three fourths of the workers were men. About 10% were children. Moderate to severe pain was reported in the back region among 14% of the workers, in the hand/wrist by 12%, and in the elbow by 8%. On physical examinations 10% had some hand/wrist pain accompanied by a positive Phalen's or Tinel's test suggesting carpal tunnel syndrome, or a positive Finkelstein's test suggesting de Quervain's disease, a tenosynovitis of the abductor pollicis longus and the extensor pollicis brevis. Most of the workers worked in stooped posture and frequently carried loaded buckets, weighing up to 13 kilograms each. The rakes varied in size from 35 to 60 centimeters wide and 1.2 to 2.1 kilograms in weight. The force of lifting the rake was estimated at 87 newtons and the motion was repeated 32 times/minute. The authors conclude that potential musculoskeletal hazards, resulting in cumulative trauma disorders, existed at this company. The authors recommend improvements in rake design, and training measures to reduce the hazards.
NIOSH-Author; NIOSH-Health-Hazard-Evaluation; NIOSH-Technical-Assistance-Report; HETA-93-1031-2521; Hazard-Confirmed; Region-1; Repetitive-work; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Ergonomics; Agricultural-workers; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Author Keywords: berry crops, blueberry farms; blueberry rakers; back pain; carpal tunnel syndrome; CTS; cumulative trauma disorders; CTDs; de Quervains disease; ergonomics; repetitive strain injuries (RSI); tendinitis; tenosynovitis
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division