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Quantifying repetitive hand activityfor epidemiological research on musculoskeletal disorders – part I: individual exposure assessment

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An exposure measurement approach is described for quantifying repetitive hand activity of individual workers in a prospective epidemiological study on work-related upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. A total of 733 subjects were involved in this study at the baseline. Hand activities were quantified by force and repetition. Force levels were measured by workers' self-reports, ergonomists' estimates based on observation and measurements with instrumentation. Repetition levels were measured by detailed time–motion analyses using two repetitive hand activity definitions and ergonomists' estimates using scales for the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists hand activity level and the Strain Index. Results showed that the present exposure assessment approach seems to be able to quantify force level and repetitiveness of hand activities. Repetitive hand activity is quantified differently depending on whether forceful hand exertion or repetitive muscle activity is used as the definition. These hand activity definitions may quantify different physical exposure phenomena. Individual exposure assessment is important in epidemiological research of musculoskeletal disorders as there are interactions between the individual subjects and the measured parameters. These interactions may vary between exposure parameters.
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Keywords: Direct measurement; Hand force; Individual exposure quantification; Observational; Repetition; Self-reporting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, P.O. Box 44330, Olympia, WA, 98504, USA

Publication date: March 15, 2006

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