The rapidly increasing use of agriculture machinery in India also brings out some important concerns. Are these machines designed to meet the individual needs of farmers across the country? Do they promise to create the right human-machine-environment combination? How well do they cater to the desired agricultural output without compromising the human health and wellness?
The answers to each of these concerns lie in understanding the ergonomics – the science that ensures efficient and safe human-machine interactions. If you are about to buy a farm machine very soon, here’s a useful guide that may help you select the right design.
Something from the History
Threshers emerged as popular farm machines during 1970s for significantly saving time, money and human labour. However, the early designs completely focused on performance and conveniently overlooked the human safety. As a result, a huge number of cases in which the farm workers lost their lives or limbs came into being. The Dangerous Machine Regulation Act of 1983, therefore, made it compulsory to include safe feeding chutes on threshers. The amended law included other machines like chaff cutters and sugarcane crushers in 2007 (Source: DMRA).
Do Imported Equipments Fit the Bill?
As per the statistics, the average height and weight of agricultural workers in India is 163 cm and 50 kg respectively. On the other hand, the machines designed in the western countries take into consideration the average height and weight as 174 cm and 74 kg (Source: YourArticleLibrary). Therefore, it is extremely important to purchase an imported machine only after evaluating whether it would have designs and features customizable for the Indian workers or not.
Need to Follow Ergonomics Principles
Reduce Postural Discomfort: Machines lacking ergonomically-friendly designs may cause physical discomfort due to poor standing, sitting or walking postures. Uncomfortable working postures may enhance the level of fatigue and can cause muscular injuries and skeletal disorders.
Check Important Body Rates: The well-designed agricultural equipment ensures that the heart rate and respiration rate don’t exceed the designated values for different agricultural activities.
Control the Stress: Farm machines with exceeding levels of noise and vibrations may cause stress on eyes, ears and brain.
Match the Varying Physical Attributes: Farmers and farm workers in regions like North India and Saurashtra are significantly different from those in the Northeast states in terms of physique. The attributes like height, weight, arm length and sitting height and the associated capabilities like push/pull strengths, leg and foot strengths, torque strengths and hand grips may considerably vary among them. Going further, the factors like gender and age too play a big role. Thus, the machine designs need to have adaptable or adjustable features and controls to serve them all.
Farm workers usually work on isolated agricultural lands with far-away human settlements. Thus, safety is an important aspect that can be achieved with ergonomic standards. At the same time, it is also necessary that there are enough displays, monitoring features and indicators to keep the workers informed about the performance and anticipated risks. By adopting these design principles, the revolutionary use of agricultural machines can be tuned highly fruitful.