Facts and figures

Push and pull forces are an important cause of work related complaints.

Manual handling of loads is a common form of transport in working environments. Scientific researcher Garg (et al.) estimated that about 50% of all actions related to the manual handling of loads consists of pushing and/or pulling maneuvers on a regular and repetitive basis1. Many of these maneuvers include transport of objects with total masses larger than 150 kg and therefore result in high forces at the side of the user2. It has been demonstrated by many studies that a direct relation exists between the manual handling of loads and the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders due to the execution of high pushing and pulling forces.1,2

‘Musculoskeletal disorders, like back, shoulder and wrist injury, are the cause of a high percentage of work related absence’

High joint torques, shear forces and compression forces arise at the body, originating from these working tasks. Common injuries arise at the location of the lower back, shoulder or wrist. In fact, musculoskeletal disorders are one of the major safety and health problems in the work field and cause up to 53% of all work related absence3.

‘Frequently maneuvering a light weight trolley might be evenly riskful as moving a heavy trolley less often’

International guidelines exist that serve as a tool to regulate the amount of physical labor on the work floor (NEN-ISO 11228-2:2007). Based on scientific research, these guidelines state that not only the amount of push/pull forces determine the risk for overuse injuries. It’s emphasized that the frequency with which trolleys are moved is equally important. Frequently maneuvering a light weighted trolley might therefore evenly contribute to the development of MSD’s compared to a heavy trolley that is used on a once-a-day basis. Other factors that affect the recommended force limits are the push height, the torso angle during pushing/pulling and the number of hands used to maneuver the trolley. Each individual working environment should therefore be assessed on its own, in order to evaluate its health limits.

‘The quality of client care is at stake when employees experience overload injuries’

Healthcare employees often feel that the care for clients is priority number one, and make their own health secundary to this task. However, the quality of client care decreases when healthcare employees experience overload injuries or eventually might not be able to work due to these complaints. Absence places additional work pressure on collegues, consequently increasing their risk for MSD’s.

References
    1. Garg, Arun & Waters, Thomas & Kapellusch, Jay & Karwowski, Waldemar. (2014). Psychophysical basis for maximum pushing and pulling forces: A review and recommendations. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. 44. 281–291.
    2. Argubi-Wollesen, A., Leitner, M., Mattes, K., & Wollesen, B. (2017). Human Body Mechanics of Pushing and Pulling: Analyzing the Factors of Task-related Strain on the Musculoskeletal System. Safety and health at work.
    3. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work; https://osha.europa.eu/en/themes/musculoskeletal-disorders

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