The ergonomics of garbage disposal

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University of New Brunswick


Introduction- Daily over 31, 000 (Stats Can, 2008) refuse workers deal with heavy and potentially hazardous waste, high cumulative loads from MMH tasks, and large amounts of energy expenditure. There is a gap in current literature in type, severity, and prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) associated with this occupation. The specific research goals for this project were to quantify the biomechanical, neuromuscular and physical demands related to manual material handling during the typical day of a refuse worker. Methods- Participants were fitted with a SenseWear armband to record energy expenditure over their day. Surface EMG was applied to the legs and back (see section 3.3.0-EMG) of the participant and MVC were taken pre-/post-shift. Video was taken of exterior (loading/MMH tasks) of the truck cab. Accelerometers were placed along the spine of the participant to calculate what percentage of the participant's maximum ROM was used throughout their shift. Results- Average daily energy expenditure was 2696kCal ± 315 kCal. The bag lift had the largest percentage of awkward posture with respect to the trunk (Trunk flexion: 37.97%, Trunk Lateral Bend: 11.15%, Trunk Twist: 23.67%). The can dump had the largest percentage of awkward posture with respect to the shoulders (Right Shoulder Flexion: 44.36%, Right Shoulder Abduction: 20.45%, Left Shoulder Flexion: 40.02%). Dolly drag had the highest daily cumulative (and peak) L4/L5 compression: 0.53MN*s ± 0.01MN*s (4588.73N ± 1063.70N). Bag lift had the highest daily cumulative (and peak) L4/L5 joint anterior sheer: -0.03MN*s ± 0.02MN*s (-227.96N ± 48.96N).