|dc.description.abstract||In Central America, manual sugarcane cutting is exhausting work known to have a high
metabolic load and to be associated with many occupational hazards including insect bites,
snake bites, inhalation of particulate matter, pesticide exposure, physical violence and eye
injuries resulting from a number of factors including sudden and repetitive body movements,
intense work pace and extreme physical exertion.
The main objective of this research was to evaluate the feasibility of acelerometer
methodologies for upper limb postures and the calculation of metabolic rate from heartrate
as an assessment of manual cane cutting during the pilot phase of the “Worker Health and
Efficiency” (WE) program in El Salvador. This was done through 1) a description of relevant
working conditions for the use of assessment methodologies or designing experiments in
cane cutters during the WE program; 2) analysis of accelerometers to determine positions
of the upper extremity work of cane cutters and 3) evaluation of a methodology for
determining metabolic rate from the heart rate measurement.
The WE Program includes, among other components: water supply through use of water
“backpacks”, programed breaks in the shade during the shift, supervised food (lunch) and
replacing the cutting technique with a methodology used in Australia.
A total of 52 people were observed, of which 12 were evaluated for working postures. Of
these, 8 were part of the posture sample together with 42 other workers. A description of
working conditions included clothing, footwear, personal protective equipment, transport,
rest, water, and land conditions. Given the high loss of accelerometer data, it was not
possible to complete the analysis of postures. However, the data obtained is reported to
guide the next steps of the project.
According to data obtained, personal factors (examples: fitness, productivity) or
environmental (examples: soil type, growth parameters cane, high temperature) may be
affecting the metabolic rate of workers, possibly explaining or producing considerable
variation in metabolic rates in the task of cutting sugarcane.
The qualitative description of working conditions was insufficient to create exposure
indicators. Heartrate measurements taken with pulsometers for estimating metabolic rate
may be an appropriate technique given the working conditions. Finally, specific changes
are recommended for experimental design and data collection protocol for the estimation of
working postures using the accelerometer methodology.||es