An analytical ergonomic risk evaluation of body postures during daily cleaning tasks in horse stables
Journal article, 2015

BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a common reason for health problems and sick leave in many professions. A work arena where MSDs have not been sufficiently studied is stable work. Here many heavy and repetitive work tasks are performed manually with old-fashioned working tools. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to use an analytical approach to identify, evaluate and grade ergonomic problems in physical work performed during daily activities in horse stables and relate these to MSDs among the workers and to the design of the tools. METHODS: Three common work tasks were studied to identify, evaluate and grade ergonomic problems; mucking out, sweeping and bedding replacement. Used methods were Hierarchical Task Analysis, Heuristic Evaluation and Rapid Entire Body Assessment. RESULTS: Several high-risk operations were found in mucking out boxes and disposal of bedding material. The problems consisted of awkward working postures such as a twisted and bent back, arms in an elevated position, wrists in extreme joint positions and handling of heavy loads. CONCLUSIONS: By using an analytical approach it is possible to identify presumptive ergonomic problems without extensive empirical research. In most high-risk operations, long-shafted tools or a wheelbarrow were used, which emphasize a need to develop tools with better ergonomic design to improve the working situation. The limitation is that the ergonomics problems found are not finally validated. The results show where deeper empirical research is needed, both regarding how MSDs occur and how tools and environment contribute to physical problems.

stable work

tool design

Musculoskeletal problems

work task analysis


Lotta Löfqvist

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Anna-Lisa Osvalder

Chalmers, Product and Production Development, Design and Human Factors

Lars-Ola Bligård

Chalmers, Product and Production Development, Design and Human Factors

Stefan Pinzke

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)


1051-9815 (ISSN)

Vol. 51 4 667-682

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Agricultural Occupational Health and Safety

Areas of Advance




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