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Effects of rotation frequency and task order on localised muscle fatigue and performance during repetitive static shoulder exertions

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Though widely considered to reduce physical exposures and increase exposure variation, there is limited evidence that rotating between tasks is effective in reducing the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of rotation, specifically focusing on rotation frequency and task order, on muscle fatigue and performance when rotating between tasks that load the same muscle group. Twelve participants completed six experimental sessions during which repetitive static shoulder abduction tasks were performed at two exertion levels for one hour either with or without rotation. Compared to only performing a higher or lower exertion task, rotating between the two tasks decreased and increased fatigue, respectively. Increasing rotation frequency adversely affected task performance, and task order had a minor effect on muscle fatigue. These rotation parameters may be important considerations when implementing rotation in the workplace.

Practitioner Summary: Rotation is widely used and assumed to reduce the risk of WMSDs, yet little research supports that it is effective in doing so. Results here show that specific aspects of a rotation scheme may influence muscle fatigue and task performance, though further research is needed under more realistic task conditions.
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Keywords: muscle fatigue; performance; rotation frequency; shoulder; task order

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 250 Durham Hall (0118)Blacksburg,VA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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