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The effect of handle height and cart load on the initial hand forces in cart pushing and pulling

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The objective of this study was to measure the three-dimensional hand forces people exert to initiate a cart push or pull for two cart loads: 73 and 181 kg, and three handle heights: knuckle, elbow, and shoulder heights. The cart used was equipped with 15.24 cm (6 in) diameter wheels. The floor was covered with carpet tiles. The laboratory-measured hand force exertions were compared to the minimum forces needed to push/pull the cart under the same conditions and to the psychophysical initial push/pull force limits. For pushing and pulling, the measured anterior-posterior hand forces were 2- 2.4 times the minimum required forces. For the heavier cart load, lower forces were applied as handle height increased. Pull forces were 7% higher than push forces. The smallest vertical forces were measured at elbow height. Strength capability and gender did not have an effect on the applied forces. The mean strength percentile for the male sample was 64%, while the mean strength percentile for the female sample was 13% as determined from the Adjusted Torso Lift Strength Test and population strength data for this test. The comparison with the psychophysical limits indicated that the tasks were well within the maximum acceptable initial forces for males, but not for females.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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