Design of an ergonomic coffee basket to increase worker productivity and comfort
Martínez Velazquez, Iraida N.
Moreno Hernández, Amanda D.
Pomales-García, Cristina D.
CollegeCollege of Engineering
DepartmentDepartment of Industrial Engineering
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In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a total number of recordable cases of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses of 5.5 out of 100 workers in Crop Production. Still, many factors may undermine the injuries and Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s) suffered by farmers, as national statistics show that only 4 to 10% of farms are subject to the OSHA reporting requirements because they employ less than 11 workers. Previous attempts to design a coffee harvesting basket showed no effects on productivity, a small reduction on worker-reported pain, increased strain on upper back and shoulders, and increased muscle activity. Our work aims to design a coffee harvesting basket with supporting mechanisms to increase productivity and comfort, focusing on the needs of puerto rican workers. Impacts in worker strain and comfort will be assessed using mixed methods approach (i.e. pressure sensors, biomechanical analysis and questionnaires). With the proposed basket design and harvesting methods improvement, we expect an increase in productivity, comfort and reduction in worker strain. Basket design ideas will assess the form, fit, weight, support and related work methods to empty the basket. A preliminary study showed evidence of stress on the worker’s shoulders and backs due to carrying a 30 pound bucket and 90 pound bag, excessive over the shoulder movements during harvesting due to the coffee bush height, and coffee beans lost due to unreachable branches, reducing worker productivity. Evidence of upper body postural evaluation suggested further investigation and changes are required to reduce worker risks, and the development of MSD's. This work in process will document the design methodology to create a coffee harvesting basket, along with the methodology to evaluate its impact. We would like to acknowledge the support of workers in Hacienda Candelaria in Yauco who participated in the preliminary study.