Ergonomics and Assistive Technology Program for Farmworkers in North Carolina

Project Overview

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2023: $22,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: NC AgrAbility
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: technical assistance, AgrAbility
  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life

    Proposal abstract:

    NC AgrAbility is a program that provides services to farmers and farmworkers that have disabilities in North Carolina. In addition to coordinating services for farmers and farmworkers, they identify the needs of the clients and assist them in finding assistive technology to improve their health and quality of life. NC AgrAbility recognized decreased quality of life of farmworkers due to a risk of musculoskeletal disorders. There is currently no ergonomics training that addresses the musculoskeletal disorders of the farmworkers.

    There is currently a labor shortage of farmworkers in the United States (Gutierrez-Li, 2021). North Carolina is among the top five states requesting H-2A workers (Gutierrez-Li, 2021). Farmworkers complete many strenuous manual tasks on the farm. Often these are repetitive with heavy lifting, causing muscle and potentially causing musculoskeletal disorders (Fathallah, 2010). Incorrect posture while lifting contributes to these disorders. Farmworkers assume incorrect postures with farm tasks because they have not been taught correct ergonomics (Narushima & Sanchez , 2014). The solution is to help farmworkers prevent musculoskeletal disorders through ergonomic training and assistive technology, which have been proven to decrease musculoskeletal disorders in farmworkers (Son & Park, 2017). The purpose of this program is to provide ergonomics training to farmworkers and trainers with an assistive technology lending library in order to prevent secondary musculoskeletal injuries among farmworkers. There are two parts to the program, 1) an ergonomic training, and 20 the assistive technology lending library. 

    The free ergonomics training will last an hour and provide education to the farmworkers and trainers of North Carolina in ergonomics. The ergonomics training program is broken down into the agricultural sector in which the farmworker works. The farmworkers will receive handouts specific to their crop. The assistive technology lending library is an additional tool to help farmworkers combat musculoskeletal pain. Farmers will be allowed to lend out equipment for the season. Funding would buy assistive technology for the farmworkers and print materials for the ergonomics training.




    Fathallah, F. A. (2010). Musculoskeletal disorders in labor-intensive agriculture. Applied Ergonomics, 41, 738-743.

    Gutierrez-Li, A. (2021). The H-2A Visa Program: Addressing Farm Labor Scaricity in North Carolina. NC State Economist, 1-7.

    Narushima, M., & Sanchez , A. L. (2014). Employes' paradoxical views about temporary foreign migrant workers' health: a qualitative study in rural farms in Southern Ontario. International Journal for Equity in Health, 13(65), 1-12.

    Son, B.-C., & Park, S.-Y. (2017). The effects of a Farm Work Safety Project. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, 10(7), 2308-2312.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Goal: Educate farmworkers and the service providers on proper ergonomics and assistive technology to prevent further musculoskeletal injuries. 

    1. Participants will understand the musculoskeletal injuries that are a result of laborious activities in farming.  
    2. Participants will understand top ergonomic tips to implement when working with their crop.  
    3. Participants will understand assistive technology that will help farmworkers that are having discomfort and pain that can lead to a future permanent disability. 
    4. Participants will be able to recognize proper body mechanics. 
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.