Author(s): Boocock MG, Haslam RA, Lemon P, Thorpe S
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Abstract The objective of the present study was to determine whether differences in the frictional properties of a floor surface may affect the kinematics and kinetics of pushing and pulling. Eight male participants were required to push and pull a four-wheeled trolley over two level surfaces, on which were mounted floor coverings with good (safety floor) and reduced (standard floor) frictional properties. A psychophysical approach was used to determine the initial maximum acceptable horizontal force required to move the trolley over a short distance (3 m). Three-dimensional (3D) hand and ground reaction forces and 3D postures were measured during initial force exertions. The results showed that psychophysically derived measures of initial horizontal force and horizontal components of hand forces did not differ significantly between floor surfaces. Despite the ability to exert similar forces, the measured maximum coefficient of friction varied according to floor surface. These changes reflected significant alterations in vertical and horizontal components of ground reaction and vertical hand forces, suggesting that participants had maximized the frictional properties available to them. Postures also changed as a consequence of floor surface, with significant changes occurring in knee flexion and trunk extension. This study has shown that handlers involved in the pushing and pulling of trolleys are capable of adjusting posture and the direction of hand and foot forces in order to compensate for reduced levels of floor friction. This has particular relevance when assessing the musculoskeletal loads imposed on the handler and the likely mechanisms of injury resulting from variations in floor conditions when workers undertake pushing and pulling tasks in the workplace.
This article was published in Ergonomics
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics