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Ergonomic assessment of veterinarians during performance of bovine reproductive examinations

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  • 1 Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 2Z4 Canada.
  • | 2 School of Rehabilitation Science, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 2Z4 Canada.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Medicine, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 2Z4 Canada.
  • | 4 Division of Ergonomics, School of Engineering Sciences in Chemistry, Biotechnology and Health, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To identify and quantify potential ergonomic hazards associated with routine reproductive examinations of cattle.

SAMPLE

7 bovine veterinarians.

PROCEDURES

Each veterinarian was observed and videotaped during 2 bovine reproductive examination appointments. During each appointment, a force-matching protocol was used to estimate the entry force used by the veterinarian to insert an arm into a cow's rectum. Veterinarian posture and repetitive movements and the work environment were assessed and quantified during review of the video recordings. Descriptive data were generated.

RESULTS

Of the 14 appointments observed, 9 and 5 involved examination of beef and dairy cows, respectively. For all veterinarians, an arm inclination ≥ 60° was observed during most reproductive examinations. The number of examinations performed per hour ranged from 19.1 to 116.8. The estimated entry force ranged from 121 to 349 N. During all 9 appointments involving beef cows, the veterinarian participated in other tasks (eg, operating overhead levers, opening gates, or assisting with cattle handling) that represented ergonomic hazards.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results confirmed that reproductive examination of cattle exposes veterinarians to various ergonomic hazards involving awkward positions and repetitive and forceful exertions that can contribute to musculoskeletal discomfort and injury, particularly of the upper extremities (neck, shoulders, upper back, arms, elbows, wrists, and hands). Veterinarians frequently participated in other tasks during reproductive examination appointments that exposed them to additional ergonomic hazards. Risk mitigation strategies should prioritize minimizing exposure of veterinarians to tasks not directly associated with the reproductive examination procedure to decrease their overall ergonomic hazard burden.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To identify and quantify potential ergonomic hazards associated with routine reproductive examinations of cattle.

SAMPLE

7 bovine veterinarians.

PROCEDURES

Each veterinarian was observed and videotaped during 2 bovine reproductive examination appointments. During each appointment, a force-matching protocol was used to estimate the entry force used by the veterinarian to insert an arm into a cow's rectum. Veterinarian posture and repetitive movements and the work environment were assessed and quantified during review of the video recordings. Descriptive data were generated.

RESULTS

Of the 14 appointments observed, 9 and 5 involved examination of beef and dairy cows, respectively. For all veterinarians, an arm inclination ≥ 60° was observed during most reproductive examinations. The number of examinations performed per hour ranged from 19.1 to 116.8. The estimated entry force ranged from 121 to 349 N. During all 9 appointments involving beef cows, the veterinarian participated in other tasks (eg, operating overhead levers, opening gates, or assisting with cattle handling) that represented ergonomic hazards.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results confirmed that reproductive examination of cattle exposes veterinarians to various ergonomic hazards involving awkward positions and repetitive and forceful exertions that can contribute to musculoskeletal discomfort and injury, particularly of the upper extremities (neck, shoulders, upper back, arms, elbows, wrists, and hands). Veterinarians frequently participated in other tasks during reproductive examination appointments that exposed them to additional ergonomic hazards. Risk mitigation strategies should prioritize minimizing exposure of veterinarians to tasks not directly associated with the reproductive examination procedure to decrease their overall ergonomic hazard burden.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Trask (ctrask@kth.se).