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.

Body Movement

This type of workload takes into account the movement of the body to a workplace or within a working area. In this, the movement is assessed regardless of the application of increased action forces.

If increased forces must be applied during a movement, the types of workload "lifting, holding, carrying", "pulling/pushing", or "whole-body forces" should be taken into consideration additionally, depending on the type of activity.

Type of movement influences the amount of stress

Walking, stepping on inclined surfaces, stairs, or ladders, climbing, and crawling are movements of the body without aids. A different type of movement is by using one's muscle power to ride bicycles with or without the support of an electric drive. The type of movement also determines the amount of workload. In this, the duration of the physical workload is a decisive aspect. In addition, there are conditions specific for the type of workload, such as the weight of the loads or equipment transported and their centre of gravity, the speed of the movement, and the condition of the route. The execution conditions, such as moisture and cold, as well as the distribution of the workload over the shift also play a role.

Movement involves large muscle groups

Body movement requires a high energy supply. It is characterised by predominantly dynamic muscular strength. This involves large muscle groups and thereby results in a cardiopulmonary strain. In addition to the cardiovascular system, both the lower extremities, i.e. hip, thigh, knee, ankle, and feet, and possibly also the lower back may be affected by overstraining.

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