Human Body Mechanics of Pushing and Pulling: Analyzing the Factors of Task-related Strain on the Musculoskeletal System

The purpose of this review is to name and describe the important factors of musculoskeletal strain originating from pushing and pulling tasks such as cart handling that are commonly found in industrial contexts. A literature database search was performed using the research platform Web of Science. For a study to be included in this review differences in measured or calculated strain had to be investigated with regard to: (1) cart weight/ load; (2) handle position and design; (3) exerted forces; (4) handling task (push and pull); or (5) task experience. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria and proved to be of adequate methodological quality by the standards of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. External load or cart weight proved to be the most influential factor of strain. The ideal handle positions ranged from hip to shoulder height and were dependent on the strain factor that was focused on as well as the handling task. Furthermore, task experience and subsequently handling technique were also key to reducing strain. Workplace settings that regularly involve pushing and pulling should be checked for potential improvements with regards to lower weight of the loaded handling device, handle design, and good practice guidelines to further reduce musculoskeletal disease prevalence.

Source: Argubi-Wollesen, A., Wollesen, B., Leitner, M., & Mattes, K. (2017). Safety and Health at Work, 8(1), 11-18.

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