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Physical workload and musculoskeletal symptoms in the human-horse work environment

Löfqvist, Lotta (2012). Physical workload and musculoskeletal symptoms in the human-horse work environment. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Alnarp, Sweden : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2012:32
ISBN 978-91-576-7668-9
[Doctoral thesis]

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Most work in horse stables is performed manually in much the same way as a century ago, with old-fashioned tools and equipment. It is one of the least mechanised sectors dealing with large animals, which often involves work in awkward postures and lifts of heavy loads. However, there is a lack of knowledge of the ergonomic risks in the human-horse work environment.
This thesis seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the human-horse work environment, work tasks, workload and frequency of musculoskeletal symptoms and to identify potential risk factors for the development of musculoskeletal symptoms.
Self-reporting methods (questionnaires, rating scales), observation methods (OWAS, REBA), descriptive task analysis (HTA, HA, GTS) and biomechanical analysis (JACK) were used to collect and analyse data. Riding instructors surveyed in the questionnaire study reported high levels of perceived musculoskeletal symptoms in at least one of nine anatomical areas during the past year and the past week. The most frequently reported problem areas were the shoulders, the lower back and the neck. Mucking out stables was considered to be the task involving the heaviest work. OWAS analysis showed that three work tasks contained a high proportion of unacceptably awkward work postures, namely mucking out, preparing bedding and sweeping. During mucking out and sweeping, the back was bent and twisted for most of the time.
There were many high-risk operations involved in mucking out boxes and disposing of bedding material. Emptying a wheel barrow on the muck heap included high-risk operations with awkward postures such as twisted, bent back arms over shoulder level and handling high loads. The analytical methods used clearly revealed where in the work tasks the ergonomic problems occurred. In almost all operations with a high risk level, a shafted tool or wheelbarrow was used. Analysis of the shaft length of two hand-held tools used for mucking out (manure fork, shavings fork) showed that the manure fork should have a longer shaft to reduce loading on the back. The results for the shavings fork were inconclusive, but indicated the importance of changes in work technique.
More in-depth knowledge of the musculoskeletal symptoms and work tasks performed in the human-horse work environment makes it easier to plan and implement measures to prevent musculoskeletal symptoms in this particular group of workers.

Authors/Creators:Löfqvist, Lotta
Title:Physical workload and musculoskeletal symptoms in the human-horse work environment
Series Name/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
Year of publishing :4 May 2012
Number of Pages:94
ILöfqvist, L., Pinzke, S., Stål, M. and Lundqvist, P. 2009. Riding instructors, their musculoskeletal health and working conditions. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 15(3):241-54.
IILöfqvist, L., and Pinzke, S. 2011. Working with horses: An OWAS work task analysis. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 17(1):3-14.
IIILöfqvist, L., Osvalder, A-L., Bligård, L-O. and Pinzke, S. 2012. Ergonomic risk evaluation of body postures during daily cleaning tasks in horse stables. (Submitted)
IVLöfqvist, L., Babapour Chafi, M., Osvalder, A-L., Bligård, L-O. and Pinzke, S. 2012. Ergonomic evaluation of long-shafted tools used in horse stables: The effects of shaft length variation and work technique on working postures. (Submitted).
Place of Publication:Alnarp, Sweden
Publisher:Dept. of Work Science, Business Economics & Environmental Psychology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
ISBN for printed version:978-91-576-7668-9
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:L Animal production > L01 Animal husbandry
X Agricola extesions > X38 Human medicine, health, and safety
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 405 Other Agricultural Sciences > Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 5 Social Sciences > 509 Other Social Sciences > Work Sciences
Agrovoc terms:saddle horses, stables, working conditions, ergonomics, musculoskeletal diseases, surveys
Keywords:Work tasks, Ergonomics, Work postures, long-shafted tools
Permanent URL:
ID Code:8781
Department:(LTJ, LTV) > Department of Work Science, Business Economics, and Environmental Psychology (until 2020)
External funders:Stiftelsen Lantbruksforskning
Deposited By: Lotta Lofqvist
Deposited On:03 May 2012 09:01
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:49

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