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Dynamic pushing on three frictional surfaces: maximum acceptable forces, cardiopulmonary and calf muscle metabolic responses in healthy men

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Pushing is an important materials handling activity in many occupations; however, pushing-related physiological investigations are still in infancy. The purpose was to evaluate maximum acceptable forces and physiological responses while pushing on: treadmill (TREAD); plywood floor (PLY); and Teflon floor (TEF). Acceptable forces, cardiopulmonary and calf muscle oxygenation and blood volume responses were collected simultaneously while 12 men (age 39 ± 13 years; height 178 ± 6 cm; and body mass 91.5 ± 16 kg) pushed for 2 h on each surface at their psychophysical workload. Participants selected higher forces on the PLY, resulting in higher pulmonary oxygen uptake compared to that of TEF (by ∼9%) and TREAD (by ∼18%). Pushing on the TEF demonstrated 50-56% lower blood volume changes and 1.5-1.8 times more oxygenation-force ratio than that for other surfaces. It is concluded that, to avoid a potential slip, participants were conservative in selecting acceptable forces to push on the slippery TEF. Part of this compensatory strategy on the TEF resulted in less muscle activity and, therefore, less demand for oxygen delivery to the calf muscle than for other surfaces. The present findings of significant force- and physiological-related differences in treadmill vs. high inertia pushcart clearly demonstrate that pushing experiments are essential to evaluate functional abilities of the workers.
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Keywords: cart pushing; muscle blood volume; near-infrared spectroscopy; oxygen uptake; slips and falls; tissue oxygenation index

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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