The influence of job rotation and task order on muscle responses in females

Job rotation aims to reduce muscle fatigue by switching between functionally different tasks to theoretically lessen the risk of site-specific fatigue and work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). The effectiveness of job rotation in mitigating the onset of muscle fatigue is partially known, but there is limited ergonomic data on female populations despite comparatively lower upper body strength and increased risk of WMSDs. Rotating between two functionally different tasks, continuing a single task, and varying task order were assessed in the present study for influence on muscle fatigue indicators in a female population. Participants performed a randomized set of four task combinations involving two unilateral, repetitive shoulder tasks (forward flexion and internal rotation). During these combinations, maximal voluntary force, mean power frequency, average EMG (aEMG) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded. Differences between task combinations and time were tested using a two-way repeated measures ANOVA. Indications of fatigue were limited in the results. Forward flexion (p?=?0.004) and internal rotation (p?=?0.002) maximum voluntary force declined in all task combinations while RPE increased (p?<?0.0001); non-rotating task combinations had the greatest declines in force and increases in RPE. Results from EMG amplitude were less clear, and were muscle and task specific. While non-rotating task combinations had the greatest decrements in aEMG submaximal force, rotating task combinations often had similar decrements, creating limited statistical differences. Changes in aEMG were too small to distinguish an order effect. The EMG results suggest muscular demand overlap between the two tasks, despite being functionally different. The effectiveness of job rotation is partially dependent on selecting tasks that engage distinct muscle groups.

Source: Dickhout, K. D., MacLean, K. F. et Dickerson, C. R. (2018). International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 68, 15-24.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2018.05.014

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