The objectives of this intervention research project were to develop and evaluate engineering controls for the reduction of the upper extremity injury risk in workers in the furniture manufacturing industry. The analysis of OSHA Form 200 logs and surveys of furniture workers revealed that upholsterers, workers who use random orbital sanders and workers who use spray guns are at higher levels of risk of illness than the rest of the working population. An on-site ergonomic analysis of these three jobs was performed and the following risk factors were identified for each of these three work groups: upholsterers-repetitive, high-force pinch grips; sanders-long-duration static grip forces; and sprayers-awkward postures (ulnar wrist deviations and wrist flexion). Engineering interventions in the form of new or modified handtools were then evaluated in the laboratory to assess their effectiveness in reducing exposure to these risk factors. For sanding, an interface was created that secured the hand to the sander with the intention of reducing the need for static grip forces during sanding. A new handtool was created for upholsterers that replaced the repetitive pinch grips with a power grip. Finally, a commercially available spray gun with ergonomic features was evaluated. Each of these modified tools/methods was compared with the standard methods typically used in industry. The results show that most of the intended beneficial effects were realized. The random orbital sander interface reduced extensor muscle activities by an average of 30%. The upholstery handtool reduced the intrinsic hand muscle activities by an average of 51%. The effects of the adapted spray gun were most prominent when working on horizontal surfaces and showed an average reduction of 40 degrees of wrist flexion and 14 degrees of ulnar deviation as compared to the standard pistol grip spray gun in this activity.
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