INTRODUCTION: Special strains are an occupational hazard often due to physical loads and inadequately designed work equipment. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this pilot study was to determine occupational illnesses related to physical strains through an experimental design that assesses the associated working postures and oxygen uptake in apple harvesting.Three methods were applied to define the physical stress provoked by apple farming tasks. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The experiments considered 5 labourers - 3 women and 2 men. The physical fatigue was assessed through oxygen consumption and heartbeat frequency according to UNI EN ISO 8996 standards. Measurements were conducted using a portable metabolimeter(COSMED). Working postures were determined according to Ovako Working Posture Analysis System(OWAS). An interview was conducted to record the labourers' subjective estimate of the stress. RESULTS: The interview results demonstrated neck and dorsal pains and fatigue causes for each operator. The VO₂ was equal to 82.33 ± 27.40 lO₂/h for women and 67.00 ± 27.60 lO₂/h for men, meaning that it was tiring for some men but for all women. The heart rates were of 115 ± 6.00 bpm for women and 113 ± 5.65 bpm for men. The VCO₂ was of 63.81 ± 21.45 lCO₂/h for women and 45.10 ± 25.53 lCO₂/h for men, while energetic equivalent and body surface area were similar for both genders, about 5.60W × h/l O₂ and 1,80 m(2) on average. Women's metabolic rate had a very high value - over 290W × m(-2), although for the men it was between 200-260W × m(-2). According to OWAS, low apple picking was ranked in class 2, high apple picking in class 1, and apple transportation belonged to class 3. conclusion. Related to VO₂ and VCO₂ consumption and the identified negative body postures, it is necessary to improve working conditions.
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