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The effect of handle design on upper extremity posture and muscle activity during a pouring task

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In this study, the effect of container handle parameters on shoulder and upper limb muscle activity and joint posture during a pouring task is investigated. Results indicated that a low handle position and a vertical handle slope minimised the loading of the shoulder muscles. A high and sloped handle minimised the muscle activity and wrist deviation of the lower arm. The effects of diameter were not significant for most dependent variables during the lifting phase of the task; however, beneficial effects were seen with the smallest handle diameter during the pouring phase. A trade-off existed between the shoulder and the hand/wrist posture with the different handles. The findings of significance with relatively small effect size suggest a high sensitivity of the system to any changes. In the real world, speed, space and work conditions are important factors that influence how a task is performed. This emphasises the importance of proper handle design.

Practitioner Summary: In this study, the effect of container handle design on the muscle activity and postures of the upper extremity during a pouring task were analyzed using the experimental data collected from electromyography and motion tracking systems. The low handle height and vertical handle slope design yielded the lowest shoulder muscle activity.
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Keywords: EMG; manual materials handling; motion tracking; pouring; shoulder; upper extremity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Industrial Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 2769, USA 2: Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 71 Frankland Road Hopkinton, MA, 01748, USA 3: Department of Industrial Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, 79409, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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