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Study of biomechanical overload in urban gardeners of Barcelona: application of analytical models for risk exposure evaluation in annual working cycle


Occupational musculoskeletal disorders in the upper limbs and its consequences on the impact and prevalence in the work force are subject of many investigations in almost all the production fields. However, the exposure to this kind of risk factor on urban gardeners has not been well studied so far. The kind of plant varieties used in the parks, the tools that they use, as much as the necessary actions for the maintenance of the park, have an impact on the biomechanical overload of the upper limbs. Additionally, the analysis of the exposure to the biomechanical overload on upper limbs in gardening work is a complex task, mainly because it is an activity highly variable and of annual cycle. For this reason an analytical model for risk exposure evaluation is necessary. During this research the work activity of 29 gardeners in 3 urban parks of Barcelona has been analyzed. Each park has a specific acting plan, in relation with the quantity and the typology of vegetal species, its classification and the season of the year. Work and observation and video recording sessions on-site were conducted. The video-graphic registration was done on workers without any prior musculoskeletal disorder and with a minimum labour experience of 5 years. Moreover, the analysis of saturation time, considered as the relation of the repetitive working hours in reference with the hours of effective work was done. Using the registered tasks on video, the biomechanical overload on upper limbs applying the OCRA Checklist method was analyzed. Results: A methodological procedure to analyze the risk exposure in annual working cycle has been proposed. The results that we got allow us to get information that can help in the assignment of the tasks and in the training of staff, as well as in the recommendations of the urban landscape’s design. All these aspects have the goal to decrease the risk to develop work-related musculoskeletal disorders