Adverse musculoskeletal outcomes represent a major burden for workers employed on large-herd dairy farms, specifically those who work in the milking parlor. Upper extremity pain and disorders are particularly prevalent, as milking tasks are highly repetitive, require substantial amounts of arm reaching and manual hand exertions, and are performed for long shift durations (typically 10 to 12 hours). Additionally, dairy worker fatigue may contribute to reduced worker productivity, decreased performance, and compromised worker and cow health. There are currently no federal regulations or guidance regarding work-rest strategies in the dairy industry, but well-rested workers are critical to safe and productive dairy parlor operations.
The purpose of this research project is to examine dairy worker fatigue within- and across-shifts and examine how worker fatigue impacts injury risk and work performance. Outcomes of this work include the identification of ideal shift durations and staffing strategies which can mitigate worker fatigue and maximize performance.
This research builds on our previous studies which identified a high percentage of large-herd parlor workers experience adverse musculoskeletal health outcomes and defined the ergonomic risk factors for the development of musculoskeletal disorders involved in parlor work.
Full project title: Dairy Worker Fatigue Assessment and Influence on Health, Safety and Performance
Funded by: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Funding period: 2022-2027