Ergonomic evaluation of farm tools is necessary to improve the fit between the physical demands of the tools and the worker who perform the work. In spite of improved farm mechnization, the use of the hand tools is inevitable in certain agricultural operations like sugarcane harvesting. Commonly used and high energy demanding tools like sugarcane harvesting knives of various models available in India were selected to assess the ergonomic suitablity. Ten individuals were selected for the investigation based on the age and fitness. They were screened for normal health through medical investigations. Four models of sugarcane harvesting knives were selected for ergonomical evlauation. The parameters used for the ergonomical evaluation of screened sugarcane harvesting knives include heart rate and oxygen consumption rate, energy cost of operation, acceptable work load, over all discomfort rate and body part discomfort score. The maximum aerobic capacity of the selected ten individuals varied from 1.84 to 2.19 L min-1 for sugarcane harvesting. The heart rate and oxygen consumption rate of the sugarcane knives varied from 132.55 to 138 beats min-1 and 1.171 to 1.253 L min-1, respectively. The energy cost of sugarcane harvesting knives, varied from 24.45 to 26.16 kJ min-1respectively. The values of percent maximum aerobic capacity (VO2 maximum) and work pulse for sugarcane harvesting knives were much higher than that of the acceptable workload (AWL), limits of 35%. Based on the analysis of results, the sugar cane harvesting knife (H1) ranked as I in terms of minimum value of heat rate (132.55 beats min-1), energy cost of work (24.45 KJ min-1), acceptable work load (58.14%), over all discomfort rate (moderate discomfort) and Body part discomfort score (29.39) when compared with other three models (H2, H3 and H4) of sugarcane harvesting knives.
Key words: Sugarcane harvesting, ergonomics, heart rate, oxygen consumption.
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