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What is a demanding lifting job for manual handling workers in Hong Kong?

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Although lifting tasks are traditionally evaluated by researchers, through the use of methods which depend on one or more approaches (i.e., psychophysical, biomechanical and physiological methods), none of these approaches makes use of expert workers in the evaluation of lifting activities. Given that 97% of lower back symptoms are aches, pains and discomfort and rely on self-reports, it is intuitive to use expert workers in evaluating the stressfulness of lifting activities. In this investigation, 217 workers from three industries in the Hong Kong area were surveyed to determine what constitutes a demanding lifting job from a worker standpoint. This was achieved by asking workers to map, in numerical terms, the level of lifting task parameter described in linguistic values. For example, the weight of load was described in three linguistic descriptors, namely, 'light', 'moderate' and 'heavy'. Then, each worker was asked to assess the meaning of these linguistic descriptors in numerical terms, based on their perception and experience with manual handling work. In this study, workers were asked to map the physical analogue of linguistic descriptors for seven lifting task parameters which are utilized in the NIOSH lifting equation, that is, weight of load, horizontal distance, vertical travel distance, vertical origin of lift, angle of asymmetry, frequency of handling and task duration. The data obtained from the workers were then subjected to validity testing in relation to norms and values reported in the published literature. On a preliminary basis, it appears that workers' assessments are logical and valid. The results suggest that the worker-based methodology is a promising approach and that it is worthwhile to pursue this approach further in the evaluation of industrial lifting activities.
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Keywords: Demanding lifting tasks; Lifting assessments; Validity; Workers' expertise assessment

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 15, 2003

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