Author(s): Pan CS, Gardner LI, Landsittel DP, Hendricks SA, Chiou SS,
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Abstract This study examined biomechanical stressor variables (physical work exposures) in relation to job title, gender, and back-belt status in 134 retail store workers. The principal concerns were to quantitatively describe physical work exposures and to determine the degrees to which these quantitative variables correlated with job title and with the use of back belts. An additional objective was to assess the inter-rater reliability of the observation method. The systematic observation method employed was based on a modification of the PATH (Postures, Activities, Tools, and Handling) measurement method. Chi-square analysis indicated that the frequencies of bent or twisted postures followed the pattern of unloaders > stockers > department managers. For weight handled per lift, lower, or carry, the pattern was unloaders > department managers > stockers. The mean lifting frequencies per hour were 35.9 for department managers, 48.8 for stockers, and 137.4 for unloaders. Back-belt-wearing percentages were higher for unloaders (63\%) compared with stockers (48\%) and department managers (25\%). Back-belt-wearing workers had higher levels of biomechanical stressor variables, including arm position, twisting, weight handled, and number of lifts per hour. Kappa statistics ranged from 0.5 to 0.63, a level of adequate or good reliability beyond chance. The method employed in this study is applicable in studies that require only fairly crude distinctions among biomechanical stressor variables. Nevertheless, this level of distinction may be sufficient when implementing intervention studies and control strategies for many material-handling-intensive jobs.
This article was published in Int J Occup Environ Health
and referenced in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs