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Occupational Injuries and Worker Capabilities.

Arndt R
NIOSH 1982 Feb:103-112
Ergonomics and systems safety techniques are reviewed. Many accidents traditionally labelled as resulting from unsafe acts may actually have occurred because the capabilities of the worker were exceeded. Accidents were said to be more likely to occur whenever a worker was given a job requiring him to adapt to changing requirements of the job. The example is given of back injuries resulting from improper lifting. Lift training programs are of little value when work space or incentives mitigate against workers employing proper technique. Rather than label improper lifting techniques as unsafe acts, it is preferable to consider them as a contributing factor in the determination of worker capabilities. Results of a study of nearly 1000 press injuries showed that unsafe acts were responsible for 53 percent and unsafe conditions were responsible for 17.6 percent. The cause was unknown in 29.3 percent of injuries. Regarding these injuries, ergonomic considerations would suggest that fatigue, overtime, psychological stress, stress induced by wage incentive programs, heat, chemicals and many other factors, as well as the sheer number of times a press operator must put his hands into a point of operation, may simply exceed the limits of human capability to avoid accidents. Research needs related to the limitations of workers in the performance of hazardous tasks are discussed.
Worker-health; Occupational-accidents; Machine-operators; Psychological-factors; Worker-motivation; Industrial-hazards; Task-performance; Human-factors-engineering
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 82-103
Source Name
Proceedings of the Symposium on Occupational Safety Research and Education, January, 1981, DHHS(NIOSH) Publication No. 82-103
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division