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The Impact of Automation on Musculoskeletal Disorders.
Ergonomics of Hybrid Automated Systems I, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Ergonomics of Advanced Manufacturing and Hybrid Automated Systems, August 16-18, 1988, Louisville, Kentucky 1988:1-7
The impact of automation on musculoskeletal system disorders was discussed. The rationale for using automated systems in industry was considered. The relationship between repetitive jobs and cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) was discussed. The overall prevalence of CTDs is not known; however, research has indicated that a significant amount of lost work time and high labor turnover can be attributed to upper limb injuries. More than half of the United States workforce has a repetitive job that has the potential for developing CTDs. The relationship between modern technology and automation and CTDs was discussed. Automation relives workers of heavy lifting and potentially hazardous work by shifting the biomechanical stresses from the trunk to the upper limbs. This has resulted in lighter work loads but a significant increase in work pacing accompanied by less recovery time for muscles, tendons and ligaments involved in short cycle, manually intensive work. Tasks requiring high rates of repetitive motion require more muscle effort than less repetitive tasks. The increased concentration of repetitive forces on the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves of the hands, wrists, and arms has increased the risk of CTDs, particularly tenosynovitis and humeral tendinitis. The CTD risk is also increased by the worker having to adopt awkward postures due to technical designs developed to achieve work economy and simplification. CTDs associated with stressful postures include tenosynovitis of the flexors and extensors of the forearm and those arising from extreme flexion and extension of the wrist. Nonoccupational factors associated with CTDs such as physical size, strength, previous injuries, and joint alignment were discussed. The author concludes that highly repetitive work combined with awkward postures increases the risk of developing CTDs. The recommended solution for reducing the risk involves redesigning the tools and tasks to reduce biomechanical and repetitive stresses on the musculoskeletal system.
Occupational-health; Biomechanics; Risk-factors; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Repetitive-work; Work-practices; Hand-injuries; Arm-injuries; Posture;
Karwowski W; Parsaei HR; Wilhelm MR;
Ergonomics of Hybrid Automated Systems I, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Ergonomics of Advanced Manufacturing and Hybrid Automated Systems, August 16-18, 1988, Louisville, Kentucky
Page last reviewed: February 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division