Types of Physical Workload

In a joint research project between the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) and the German Social Accident Insurance Association (DGUV), six relevant types of physical workload have been defined on the basis of the scientific literature and expert surveys.

Manual Handling Operations

Work assigned to the manual work processes is mostly performed while sitting down or standing. Frequently, smaller tools are used for this work.

Manual work processes are characterised by uniform, repetitive motion sequences and applications of force through the hand-arm system. In this, the work objects are usually processed, i.e. modified.

The delimitation to other types of workload is not always unambiguous. It may make sense to alternatively assign the types of workload "lifting, holding, carrying", "pulling, pushing", or "whole-body forces". For example, this is the case if the loads to be moved are heavy or the forces to be applied are high.

The frequency of repetition of an activity influences the workload

The main workload is caused by the frequency of repetition and the type of application of force. The duration of the workload is another decisive aspect. Additionally, there are conditions specific for the type of physical workload: What is the hand-arm posture? Does someone use hands and arms as tools? Which requirements are applicable to the field of accuracy? The body posture, the distribution of the physical workload during the shift period, and the execution conditions (etc.) also influence the amount of workload. For example, the latter include the spatial conditions, but also moisture and draught.

Manual work processes mainly strain the small muscle groups of the hand-arm system. This may have adverse effects on joints, muscles, and tendons. Some symptoms, such as the carpal tunnel syndrome, can be delimited clearly.

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