Investigation of oil palm harvesting tools design and technique on work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper body

S. Mohamaddan, M. A. Rahman, M. Andrew_Munot, S. J. Tanjong, B. M. Deros, S. Z. Md Dawal, K. Case

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The oil palm industry is one of the important sectors in Malaysia. The growth and development of this industry shows that Malaysia is the world second-largest oil palm producers. However, in the fresh fruit bunch (FFB) harvesting process, the harvesters are exposed to many types of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). The FFB harvesters tend to develop WMSDs especially the shoulders and trunk. Hence, it is important to identify the exposure levels, awkward postures and the reaction forces of muscle activity based on the posture and movement of the harvesters when using pole, chisel and loading spike during the harvesting process. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of the design of oil palm FFB harvesting tools on WMSDs of the upper body. Rapid Upper Limb Analysis (RULA) was used to investigate and assess the exposure level on the harvester body during the harvesting process. The assessment showed that the shoulders and trunk have high exposure level and undergo awkward posture. Human Musculoskeletal Model Analysis (HMMA) was used to identify the reaction force exerted on the muscle during the FFB harvesting process. In this study, 4 muscles were analysed including Triceps, Biceps, Erector Spinae and Psoas Major. The highest reaction force of 16.36 N was found on the left triceps when handling a loading spike. In conclusion, it is important to address the risks by reviewing all possible aspects that contribute to the WMSDs and interventions on the tool design, task and working shifts may be required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103226
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov


  • Fresh fruit bunch (FFB)
  • Human musculoskeletal model analysis (HMMA)
  • Rapid upper limb analysis (RULA)
  • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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