Researchers Study Body Orientation during Lab-Based Machinery Egress

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Researchers Study Body Orientation during Lab-Based Machinery Egress

Slip-and-fall injuries are a significant risk for farm-equipment operators entering and exiting cabs. Safety experts recommend facing the cab and maintaining three points of contact upon exiting. In an award-winning paper published in the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, researchers reported on observations made in a laboratory setting of experienced operators as they entered and exited a model tractor cab. They noted that fewer than half of them chose to orient themselves toward the cab, and only about a third maintained three contact points throughout descent, even after being subjected to an hour of whole-body vibration. 

Can operator safety be improved? Future assessments of movement patterns and other external forces should provide insights.

Body Orientation and Points of Contact during Laboratory-Based Machinery Egress: Investigating Adherence to Safety Guidelines

D. C. Kingston, B. Bashiri, A. Omoniyi, C. M. Trask

Published in Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health 26(3): 95-104 (doi: 10.13031/jash.13931).
Copyright 2020 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Abstract: Mobile farm machinery operators are at a high risk of injury when entering (ingress) and exiting (egress) the cabs of such machinery due to slips and falls. Safety organizations and equipment manufacturers have delivered a consistent message: operators are to egress machines facing in, toward the access path, and maintain three points of contact at all times. This study used a laboratory-based model of a mid-sized agricultural tractor to determine adherence to best practices for safety and the effect of acute whole-body vibration exposure on compliance. The majority of 19 experienced operators (16 male, 3 female) performed machinery egress facing out from the cab because descending while facing in toward the machine took 2.5 s longer. Maintaining at least three points of contact during egress was observed for only approximately 30% of egress duration, but was as high as approximately 41% for participants who self-selected the facing-in orientation. Exposure to 1 h of whole-body vibration did not change points of contact behavior nor trial duration when performing egress while facing out. Overall, the model cab used in this study had safety features similar to a real-world machine, indicating that there may be opportunities in access path or cab door design to promote increased points of contact use. Future work is needed to accurately assess three-dimensional movement patterns and external forces for disease and injury risk models.