Preemployment Strength Testing in Selecting Workers for Materials Handling Jobs

May 1977
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 77-163

A research project which was initiated to extend earlier studies that disclosed that weaker workers incurred a larger proportion of musculoskeletal problems than their stronger counterparts when placed on jobs requiring significant physical effort is presented. The project entailed evaluation of over 900 jobs in six plants to establish the relative strength requirements of each job. Major findings concerned the relationship between heavy load lifting and musculoskeletal incidents and the low correlation between strength and body characteristics. New in-depth biomechanical and metabolic job evaluation methodologies were also used in selected jobs to demonstrate how reengineering might reduce musculoskeletal injuries. A major recommendation is proposed for the categorization of action levels to control the hazards of excessive physical exertion, with preemployment strength testing for all workers should the job conditions exceed the standards.