Full-shift and task-specific upper extremity muscle activity among US large-herd dairy parlour workers

David I. Douphrate, Nathan B. Fethke, Matthew W. Nonnenmann, Anabel Rodriguez, Robert Hagevoort, David Gimeno Ruiz de Porras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


US large-herd dairy parlour workers experience a high prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms in the upper extremity. The purpose of this study was to estimate and compare full-shift and task-specific muscle activity of the upper extremity among parlour workers. Surface electromyography data were recorded continuously throughout a full work shift for each participant (n = 60). For a subset of participants (n = 33), muscular effort was estimated for milking task cycles. Lower muscle activity levels and higher per cent muscular rest was observed among rotary parlour participants as compared to herringbone and parallel parlour participants for anterior deltoid, forearm flexor and forearm extensor muscles. These findings suggest rotary parlours may offer workstation designs or work organisational dynamics which may be more beneficial to the health and performance of the worker, as compared to parallel or herringbone parlours. Practitioner Summary: Study findings suggest milking parlour configurations present different biomechanical demands on workers which may influence worker health and performance. Our findings will enable more informed decisions regarding both engineering (e.g. parlour configuration or milking equipment) and administrative (e.g. work organisation) control strategies for large-herd milking parlours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1054
Number of pages13
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Agriculture ergonomics
  • biomechanics
  • equipment design
  • intervention effectiveness
  • task analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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