Effects of work experience on work methods during dynamic pushing and pulling

Pushing and pulling are potential risk factors for work-related low back disorders (WRLBDs). While several studies have evaluated differences in work methods related to work experience, such evidence for dynamic pushing and pulling is limited. Eight novices and eight experienced workers completed dynamic push/pull tasks using a cart weighted to 250% of individual body mass in two different configurations (preferred vs. elbow handle heights). Multiple measures [hand forces, torso kinematics and kinetics, and required coefficient of friction (RCOF)] were obtained to assess WRLBD and slip risks. Experienced workers generated higher medio-lateral hand forces, during both pulls and pushes, though with a more substantial difference during pushes (∼74%), and which involved the use of hand force components other than to move the cart in an anterior-posterior direction. Experienced workers also had lower peak torso kinematics in flexion/extension and lateral bending, and lower torso flexion/extension kinetics. The latter is suggestive of a lower risk for WRLBDs, though levels of exposures to WRLBD risk were low to moderate in both groups and were often relatively small and inconsistent across the task configurations. Group-level differences in RCOF were quite small, indicating a comparable slip risk between the two groups. Thus, it was considered inconclusive whether the work methods used by experienced workers during dynamic pushing and pulling are advantageous regarding WRLBD and slip risks.

Source: Lee, Jungyong, Nussbaum, Maury A., Kyung, Gyouhyung. (2014). International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 44(5), 647-653.

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