Dairy Ergonomics

Dairy farm production in the U.S. is steadily moving toward large-herd operations due to associated economies of scale. Higher repetitions, reduced rest time, awkward postures, and high muscle loads all increase the risk for musculoskeletal injuries for milking parlor workers. This project addressed the health and safety of large-herd dairy parlor workers through physical exposure assessment and intervention analysis (ergonomics).  Physical exposures were compared across parlor configurations, and intervention strategies were evaluated for their effectiveness in reducing physical exposures and improving ergonomics on dairy farms.

Through this study, David Douphrate and collaborators suggest organizational factors associated with parlor design may have an influence on muscle activity and potentially the development of worker fatigue. Engineering controls such as parlor configuration, work station design, milking cluster design and udder preparation tools may contribute to the reduction of physical exposures among workers. In addition to parlor configuration and milking routine, dairy producers should consider the influence of engineering and administrative controls on worker health and performance to improve ergonomics on dairy farms.

Funded By: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Funding Period: 2011-2016



Effects of milking unit design on upper extremity muscle activity during attachment among U.S. large-herd parlor workers.
DI Douphrate, D Gimeno Ruiz de Porras, MW Nonnenmann, R Hagevoort, SJ Reynolds, A Rodriguez, NB Fethke.  Appl Ergon 201758, 482-490.

Full-shift and task-specific upper extremity muscle activity among US large-herd dairy parlour workers.
DI Douphrate, NB Fethke, MW Nonnenmann, A Rodriguez, R Hagevoort, D Gimeno Ruiz de Poras. Ergonomics 2017. 60(8), 1042-1054.

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Job Factors Among Large-Herd Dairy Milkers.
DI Douphrate, MW Nonnenmann, R Hagevoort, D Gimeno Ruiz de Porras.  Journal of Agromedicine 2016. 21(3), 224-233.

Fact Sheet

Recommendations for Prevention: Worker Injuries Causes by Repetitive Motion [Download]
Created in collaboration with the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH)

Principal Investigator

David Douphrate
David Douphrate, PhD, MBA, MPT, CPE

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor
Texas A&M University - Public Health
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health