Recent studies indicate fatigue of the shoulder muscles may result in changes in normal shoulder kinematics that affect risk for shoulder impingement disorders. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health want to study and compare the effectiveness of two intervention strategies for reducing MSDs and shoulder pain attributable to overhead assembly work in automotive manufacturing.
The researchers note the increasing age of workers, the overall decline in manufacturing jobs, and changes in organizational management systems make it imperative to protect older worker from MSDs in order to maintain productivity.
In automotive manufacturing, overhead conveyance of the vehicle chassis requires assembly line workers to use tools in postures with their arms elevated. The postures are believed to be associated with symptoms of upper limb discomfort, fatigue, and impingement syndromes.
An articulating spring-tensioned tool support device that unloads from the worker the weight of the tool that would otherwise be manually supported is the preferred primary prevention strategy. A targeted exercise program intended to increase individual employees' strength and endurance in the shoulder and upper arm stabilizing muscle group is an approach that also may have merit.
The researchers are proposing to study teams of workers at a Toyota Motors Engineering facility in Georgetown, Ky., over a 10-month period. The four teams of 25 to 30 workers each would use either of the two intervention strategies or a combined intervention treatment. The fourth would be a control group.
In addition to followup questionnaires, a shoulder-specific functional capacity evaluation test battery would be administered at 90 and 210 days immediately pre- and post-intervention to confirm the efficacy of the targeted exercise program in improving shoulder capacity. NIOSH expects to complete the data collection in 2014.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 27, 2012
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