Perception of safe horizontal reaching distance changes with repetitive occupational loading in novice lifters

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McCubbing, Dustin C.
Shan, Gongbing
Gonzalez, Claudia L. R.
Awosoga, Olu A.
Doan, Jon B.
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Safe work behaviours rely on accurate perceptions of injury risks, and workers who have a misperception of risk can be injured. Despite the importance of perception-action coupling, little is known about modification of those perceptions with changing physical or cognitive STATE. It is hypothesized that changing values for perceived affordances could evidence these modifications. A better understanding of how worker characteristics (e.g., level of fatigue) affect perceptions of affordance and their corresponding behaviours, may help when developing strategies for ergonomic best practices, particularly in manual material handling (MMH) activities. The aim of this study was to compare safe perceptions of affordance from workers that completed repetitive STATE loading. Seventy-five novice MMH workers (23 male; mean age = 21.43, SD = 3.24) made perceived affordances of their safest horizontal reaching distance (acceptable limit) to complete a model task. STATE loading consisted of physical or cognitive fatigue or a control. The levels of fatigue were assessed at five-minute intervals using Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) values and Multi-Fatigue Inventory (MFI) values, respectively. A significant main effect of TIME indicated a decrease of perceived safest reaching distance observed from baseline through subsequent measurements (p<.001). The magnitude of these changes did not differ significantly between groups, suggesting that general learning more than specific STATE loading may be a major contributor to modification of affordance perceptions. However, it remains important to consider TIME and STATE influences on perceptions for safe occupational handling. Novice workers’ initial perceptions of safe working affordance may put them at risk for soft tissue injury. Physical and cognitive loading similarly affect perceived safe affordances.
Sherpa Romeo blue journal. Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies.
Affordance , Perception of safety , Physical fatigue , Cognitive fatigue , Manual materials handling , Ergonomics , Human factors , Reaching , Workplace injury
McCubbing, D. C., Shan, G., Gonzalez, C. L. R., Awosoga, O. A., & Doan, J. B. (2015). Perception of safe horizontal reaching distance changes with repetitive occupational loading in novice lifters. Procedia Manufacturing, 3, 4542-4549.