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The impact of working technique on physical loads - an exposure profile among newspaper editors

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The aim of this study was to investigate the possible associations between working technique, sex, symptoms and level of physical load in VDU-work. A study group of 32 employees in the editing department of a daily newspaper answered a questionnaire, about physical working conditions and symptoms from the neck and the upper extremities. Muscular load, wrist positions and computer mouse forces were measured. Working technique was assessed from an observation protocol for computer work. In addition ratings of perceived exertion and overall comfort were collected. The results showed that subjects classified as having a good working technique worked with less muscular load in the forearm (extensor carpi ulnaris p=0.03) and in the trapezius muscle on the mouse operating side (p=0.02) compared to subjects classified as having a poor working technique. Moreover there were no differences in gap frequency (number of episodes when muscle activity is below 2.5% of a reference contraction) or muscular rest (total duration of gaps) between the two working technique groups. Women in this study used more force (mean force p=0.006, peak force p=0.02) expressed as % MVC than the men when operating the computer mouse. No major differences were shown in muscular load, wrist postures, perceived exertion or perceived comfort between men and women or between cases and symptom free subjects. In conclusion a good working technique was associated with reduced muscular load in the forearm muscles and in the trapezius muscle on the mouse operating side. Moreover women used more force (mean force and peak force) than men when operating the click button (left button) of the computer mouse.
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Keywords: Computer work; Individual risk factors; Muscular load; Musculoskeletal disorders

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 15, 2003

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