Injury prevention by design: Measuring greenhouse worker social sustainability for redesigned equipment

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The greenhouse industry is a multibillion-dollar sector of U.S. agricultural production. Greenhouse workers often experience hazardous working conditions placing them at risk for injury. These injuries include but are not limited to mechanized operations causing machine and tool related injuries, on-site shipping and loading practices placing excessive strain on a worker's body, working from height leading to slips and falls, and a strenuous indoor working environment exceeding workers' physical capabilities. This project focused on identifying greenhouse worker injury trends using workers' compensation data from the Midwest region and observing and interviewing workers at one specific greenhouse company host site. Physical exertion, lifting and handling, and falls were all high value workers' compensation problems for Midwestern regional greenhouses. A new piece of equipment and process was designed to prevent worker injury identified within the host site. The baseline risk from the original equipment was compared to the new equipment using a newly proposed indicator of social sustainability based on a validated safety professional tool, the risk assessment matrix (RAM), was utilized. The RAM found a reduction in risk between the original and new equipment. The new equipment design and process exhibited improvement in six out of the eleven hazards identified in the RAM. These improvements addressed lifting and handling concerns. Combining workers' compensation data analysis, onsite observation, and worker interviews together was an effective method to rapidly deploy and design safer and thus more socially sustainable equipment for greenhouse workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication25th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference (DFMLC)
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791883952
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020
EventASME 2020 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC-CIE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Aug 17 2020Aug 19 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference
Volume6

Conference

ConferenceASME 2020 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC-CIE 2020
CityVirtual, Online
Period8/17/208/19/20

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health, NIOSH Grant U54 OH010162. Thanks to the: Benjamin Everhart, Cullen Helgeson, Matthew Schnaare, Michael Weber, Michael Plante, Darrel Anderson, Jose Carrillo and Dr. Robert Feyen. Many thanks to the greenhouse staff for spending their time and effort with us on this project.

Keywords

  • Greenhouse production
  • Injury prevention
  • Risk assessment matrix
  • Social sustainability
  • Worker health and safety

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