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Physical exertion and working efficiency of reforestation workers

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Author(s): Hodges Alastair | Kennedy Michael

Journal: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
ISSN 1745-6673

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 20;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background The purpose of this study was to quantify the physical exertion during tree planting work and to examine the relationships between exertion, task efficiency, and productivity. Methods Heart rate (HR) was monitored on 34 tree planters while they worked. HR data was collected for a complete working day on 19 subjects and for shorter periods of time on 15 subjects. Video of work tasks was recorded on 22 subjects (video was recorded on 7 of the subjects for whom HR was monitored through a full working day) and analyzed for working pace and proportion of time spent on each task. Results HR during a full day (9.0 ± 1.2 hours) of tree planting work was 115.2 ± 8.8 beats.min-1, and working HR was 128.2 ± 15.6 beats.min-1 for 82.5 ± 6.8% of the work day. Mean work pace was 452 ± 174 trees.h-1, and the proportion of time spent planting each tree was 53 ± 8% of the working time. Significant (P < 0.05) positive correlations were found between work pace and experience level, and between work pace and working HR, and a significant (P < 0.05) negative correlation was found between experience level and HR for a given work pace. No significant relationships were found between experience level or work pace and the proportion of time spent planting each tree. Conclusions Tree planters work at approximately 65% of age-predicted HRmax, and maintain HR at approximately 59% of HRmax throughout the entire working day. Productivity in these workers appears to be related to effort rather than to experience or task efficiency per se.

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