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Avoiding MSDs in viticulture: Priority to the health of workers in vineyards

Although viticulture jobs offer a privileged proximity to nature, making them particularly attractive to those who prefer to work outdoors, they are not without risks.

Indeed, the rates of work accidents and occupational illnesses in this sector are among the most affected among agricultural workers. Pruning the vine, harvesting, working the soil, handling barrels and other heavy loads, as well as repetitive actions such as tying vines, are all activities that expose viticulture workers to risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

It is essential for wine growers to take preventive measures such as the use of ergonomic equipment.

The 5 major risks inherent to the profession

Winegrowers must face accident risks, some of which can have significant repercussions, particularly:

1. MSD of the upper limbs: Repetitive actions such as pruning the vine, picking grapes and handling tools can lead to MSD in the shoulders, arms and hands.

2. MSD of the back: Activities such as pruning vines in a bent position, handling heavy loads such as barrels and agricultural equipment, as well as prolonged work in a standing or bending position can cause MSD of the back .

3. Lower limb MSDs: Working the ground, walking on uneven terrain and handling heavy loads can increase the risk of MSDs in the legs, knees and feet.

4. Neck TMS: Prolonged postures, such as holding the head in a tilted position while pruning or harvesting, can cause neck and cervical TMS.

5. General fatigue and muscle stress: Demanding work conditions and repetitive movements can lead to generalized muscle fatigue and stress on the entire body, increasing the risk of MSDs.

Beyond Pain: Understanding TMS

Musculoskeletal disorders (TMS) are diseases that affect the joints, muscles and tendons due, in particular, to biomechanical overburden.

Given their high prevalence (they represent 87% of occupational diseases in France) and their impacts both for employees (sequelles...) and for companies (absentery, lower productivity, health insurance premiums...), it is necessary to put in place concrete actions to remedy them.

Among these, it is possible to turn to the exoskeletons.

Preventive measures to adopt

To prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among wine growers, here are some key prevention measures to adopt:

1. Workstation layout: Adapt workstations to reduce physical constraints, for example by providing height-adjustable work surfaces to avoid excessive bending on the ground.

2. Use of ergonomic equipment: Provide ergonomic tools and equipment adapted to the specific tasks of winegrowers, such as ergonomic pruners and lifting harnesses, to reduce physical strain or exoskeletons to relieve the back even when bending.

3. Task rotation: Encourage task rotation to diversify movements and reduce repetitiveness, which can help prevent muscle fatigue and MSDs.

4. Taking regular breaks: Encourage regular breaks during extended work periods to allow workers to rest and relax their muscles, using the HAPO SD exoskeleton to relieve pressure on the back.

5. Medical and ergonomic monitoring: Offer regular medical monitoring to detect signs of MSD early and offer personalized ergonomic advice to optimize the use of the exoskeleton and prevent injuries.

6. Training and Awareness: Provide training on MSD risks and good work practices, as well as educate workers on the proper use of the exoskeleton and its back relief benefits.

What is an exoskeleton?

Exoskeletal Physical Assistance Devices (PADs) are ergonomic solutions that, as their name suggests, aim to reduce the biomechanical demands of workers.

Carried on the body as a backpack, these exoskeletons are completely passive (no engines, cylinders or other electronics) and operate with a principle of storage-restitution of energy through composite springs.

Concretely, the exoskeletons developed by ErgoHealth make it possible to facilitate work, reduce fatigue, preserve health and maintain employment.

HAPO SD: the exoskeleton that relieves the back to the ground bending

The HAPO SD (Unlocking) is the simplest and robust passive physical support device in the HAPO range. Both light (0.9 kg) and discreet, the HAPO SD was designed to partially redirect the efforts of the top of the trunk (by pectoral support), to the thighs.

Working with composite spring rods, the HAPO SD reduces the lumbar physical load workers and thus preserve intervertebral discs.

Optimal situations for the use of HAPO SD exoskeleton are those requiring a complete bending of the trunk to the ground, static or dynamic.

In laboratory tests, it was shown that, compared to an exoskeletal situation, the HAPO SD allowed to reduce approximately -11 % the solicitation of back muscles.