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Optimal hand locations for safe scaffold-end-frame disassembly.

Cutlip-R; Hsiao-H; Garcia-R; Becker-E; Mayeux-B
Appl Ergon 2002 Jul; 33(4):349-355
Overexertion and fall injuries comprise the largest category of injuries among scaffold workers. A significant portion of these injuries is associated with scaffold-end-frame dismantling tasks, which require both muscle strength and postural balance skills. The commonly used tubular scaffold end frame is 1.52-m wide x 2-m high and weighs 23 kg. Previous studies have indicated that a great muscle strength can be generated when scaffold workers placed their hands symmetrically at knuckle height. However, adequate postural stability can only be reached when the workers placed their hands at the chest or shoulder height, which is near to the height of scaffold-end-frame center-of-mass. A reasonable approach to solve this dilemma is to develop an assistive lifting device, such as a light-weight clip-and-lift bar, that allows workers to place their hands at the height of the center-of-mass of end frames and concurrently allows an optimal hand separation for them to generate an adequate maximum isometric muscle force to safely accomplish the task. This study was conducted to determine the optimal hand location for a conceptual assistive lifting device to mitigate potential postural imbalance while reducing overexertion hazards during scaffold disassembly. This location would be within a window defined by a vertical hand placement between shoulder height and knuckle height and by a horizontal hand separation distance of shoulder width to end-frame width. The whole-body maximum isometric strength of 54 construction workers was measured in nine symmetric scaffold-end-frame disassembly postures, defined by a combination of three vertical hand placements by three horizontal hand separation distances within the aforementioned window. The study apparatus include a computer-controlled data-acquisition system, a custom-fabricated scaffold fixture, and two Bertec force platforms. An analysis of variance showed that the interaction effect of vertical hand placement and hand separation on workers' maximum isometric strength was significant (p < 0.004). A hand location between elbow height and chest height with a hand separation distance of 46 cm (a conceptual, light-weight assistive bar) would allow workers to generate sufficient isometric strength (about twice that of the scaffold weight) to disassemble the typical 23 kg scaffolds while concurrently allowing them to mitigate the likelihood of postural imbalance.
Injury-prevention; Scaffolds; Musculoskeletal-system; Muscle-function; Work-performance; Construction-workers; Construction-equipment; Posture; Author Keywords: Isometric strength; Scaffold; Overexertion; Postural stability
H. Hsiao, Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA
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Applied Ergonomics