2004 Volume 42 Issue 2 Pages 149-162
The Indian farming employs 225 million workforce to cover 140 million hectares of total cultivated land. In spite of rapid farm mechanization (e.g., 149 million farm machinery), the vast resource-poor family farming has primary dependence on traditional methods (e.g., 520 million hand tools and 37 million animal-drawn implements are in operation). The work drudgery, the traumatic accidents and injuries are the major concerns to examine options for ergonomics intervention and betterment of work in crop production activities. This review summarizes human energy expenditure in crop production activities, to assess the job severity, tools and machinery, and formulate the basis to reorganize work and work methods. While the farm mechanization is more in the northern India, the accidents were more in the villages in southern India. On average of the four regions, the tractor incidents (overturning, falling from the tractor, etc.) were highest (27.7%), followed by thresher (14.6%), sprayer/duster (12.2%), sugarcane crusher (8.1%) and chaff cutter (7.8%) accidents. Most of the fatal accidents resulted from the powered machinery, with the annual fatality rate estimated as 22 per 100, 000 farmers. The hand tools related injuries (8% of the total accidents) were non-fatal in nature. In spite of the enactment of legislation, the shortcomings in production and monitoring of the machinery in field use may be responsible for the high rate of accidents (e.g., 42 thresher accidents/1, 000 mechanical threshers/year in southern India). Due to the lack of technical capability of the local artisans, adhering to safety and design standards is impractical to the implements fabricated in the rural areas. The analysis emphasizes that the effective safety and health management may be possible through legislative enabling of the local infra-structure, such as block development authority and primary health services, to permeate occupational health and safe work practices in the farming sector.