Health of coconut tree climbers of rural southern India - medical emergencies, body mass index and occupational marks: A quantitative and survey study

Bincy M. George, Muddanna S. Rao, Arunachalam Kumar, Niveditha Suvarna, Jessica Sushma D'Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Coconut plucking, a profession of a few communities in southern India, is an arduous calling now. Permanent cosmetic defects to the skin, apart from medical emergencies, have forced many to abandon this time honoured profession. The objective of the present study was to explore the health status and the casualties in traditional coconut tree climbers in southern India. Method: A total of 240 male volunteers, all below 55 years, who were engaged in the profession, were interviewed between January 2006 and December 2008. A survey on the history of the falls, injuries, changes in the skin or body parts and the incidence rate of the withdrawal from the occupation were collected. The anthropometric data of 220 participants and their body mass index (BMI) was calculated. The parts which were afflicted due to occupational dermatosis were photographed and measured by using the scion image software. Results: 15% volunteers from group1 (<10 years of experience), 26.6% from group 2 (10-20 years of experience), 44% from group 3 (20-30 years of experience), and 41.3% from group 4 (>30 years of experience) fell down from trees, resulting in injuries. The histories of accidental cuts/lacerations from special knives which were used and those of skids/slips during the monsoon season in groups1, 2, 3, and 4 were 7.7, 15.0, 16.9, 12.0% respectively. The body weight and the BMI of the climbers in groups 2, 3 and 4 showed significant declines as compared to those of the non-climbers. Colles, vertebral and maxillary fractures, tendocalcaneus lesions and severe allergies, were among the medical emergencies which were listed. Conclusion: This study establishes a decline in the BMI with a progress in the tree-climbing experience, with marked falls being noted in groups 3 and 4. We suggest that this type of data should be taken into consideration in the plantation industry that depends on physical attributes, pesticides and lethal farm implements as the routine requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-60
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 05-03-2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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