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Step scaling and behaviour selection in a constrained set of manual material handling transfers

In: Ergonomics. Vol. 56, no. 6 (2013), p. 964-976.

Authors: David W. Wagner, Matthew P. Reed

Predictive biomechanical analysis of manual material handling (MMH) transfers is dependent on accurate prediction of foot locations relative to the task. Previous studies have classified common acyclic stepping patterns used during those transfer tasks, but the influence of walking distance prior to the transfer is not well understood. Twenty men and women performed transfers for a minimum of six different delivery distance conditions. The number of steps used by the participants ranged from two to seven. A theoretical framework for idealised step-scaling strategies is proposed and compared with the experimental data. The maximum observed increase in step length prior to delivery was 1.43 times the nominal step length calculated for each participant. The data suggest that although participants can scale their steps to facilitate the use of a single terminal stance at the transfer, the majority of participants chose to utilise a combination of stepping strategies if the preferred contralateral lead foot strategy could not be easily implemented. Practitioner summary: Accurate foot placements are needed for predictive biomechanical analysis of MMH. A laboratory study investigated the influence of previous step positions on MMH. A flexible step-scaling strategy, in which step lengths and strategy were varied, suggests that analysis based on simulated movements should consider multiple lifting postures.

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