volume: 40, issue:
Biomass for energy production and other bioproducts may be procured from various sources including willow short-rotation coppice (WSRC). Management of WSRCs involves several operations, including harvesting, which accounts for the greatest cost share and, if conducted motor-manually, it can expose the workers to noise, uncomfortable work postures and high cardiovascular loads. In this study, we evaluated the productivity, physical strain, exposure to noise, and postural risk index of workers operating in motor-manual felling of WSRC using a set of automatic dataloggers. Productivity of felling operations was rated at 0.07 ha/h, which is in line with the results reported by other studies. Cardiovascular load was rated at cca. 35% of the HRR, indicating a medium to heavy work experienced by the feller, with a greater contribution of tasks involving movement. Exposure to noise (LEX,8h = 95.19) exceeded the limit value set by the European legislation (87 dBA) and it could increase as a function of the engine utilization rate, which was 68% in this study, advocating for mandatory wearing of protective equipment. Postural risk index was evaluated at 191.11% for the worker handling the brush cutter and at 192.02% for the manual assistant indicating rather reduced risks, but also the need to evaluate how the dynamic work of the upper limbs would affect the workers’ health. While this work stands for a preliminary case study, the procedures described may be successfully used to easily collect long-term data in such operations.