In occupational situations, accidents referred to as accidents on the level (AoLs) occur most of the time when locomotion control fails. This control is determined by the interactions between the operator and the environment, the task and the used tools. Hence, AoLs prevention requires developing ways to optimise these interactions. More fundamentally, AoLs prevention requires understanding locomotion control in situations where this control is at sake, that is in situations involving one or more AoLs factors. The purpose of this article is to propose a comprehensive model for the control of locomotion in occupational environments. This model featuring the operator, the task and the working space should be an appropriate tool to understand AoLs in the scope of their prevention. Firstly, we describe what occupational AoLs are. In a second part, we present a review of the theoretical and experimental knowledge related to the locomotion system through the various means developed by the Central Nervous System to cope with perturbations of the environment and/or particular constraints from the task. Finally, we propose a simplified systemic model presenting the various levels of control (sensory-motor to cognitive levels) describing locomotion in occupational situations, and we suggest experiments likely to produce the appropriate data to construct the final comprehensive model.
The objective of this study was to explain the contribution of lower extremity muscle activity to gait kinetic and kinematic adaptations for maintaining gait dynamic balance when walking on an inclined icy surface and the biomechanical mechanisms used to counteract slip risk. A two-way factorial experimental design was applied. The two independent variables were the walkway surface (ice and treadmill) and the walkway inclination (0º, 6º, 8º). The dependent variable was the amplitude of the surface EMG of four right lower extremity muscles (tibialis anterior TA, gastrocnemius lateralis GL, rectus femoris RF, and biceps femoris BF). Twelve healthy subjects (7 males and 5 females) participated in the walking trials. A two-way ANOVA analysis showed that on the icy surface in the heel contact phase, EMG amplitudes significantly decreased in TA and RF compared to those for the treadmill surface. In the mid-stance phase, the GL muscle activity significantly decreased on ice compared to treadmill and all four muscle activities increased significantly with the inclination. During the toe off phase, GL and RF activities increased with the inclination. The mechanisms identified may be applied to develop intervention, rehabilitation and training techniques, and to improve performance in human locomotion, such as for winter sports.
`Walking-Mode Maps', based on Slip/Non-Slip criteria, are proposed. Slip/Non-Slip criteria are expressed as follows: • for a slip to occur: |Fh/Fn|h ≥ μs or |Fh/Fn|t ≥ μs • for no slip to occur: |Fh/Fn|h < μs or |Fh/Fn|t < μs |Fh/Fn|h and |Fh/Fn|t are the maximum peak value of the traction coefficient at heel-strike and toe-off respectively, and μs is the static friction coefficient between shoe sole and walkway. The `Walking-Mode Map' for the level-surface shows the possible regime of each walking mode as Slip, Slip possible or No slip. Our results, which are based upon a small population and strictly-specified test conditions, indicate that a static friction coefficient higher than 0.47 will prevent both forward and backward slips under our test conditions and under a range of step lengths of 0.55 to 0.95 m and walking speeds of 1.0 to 1.9 m/s. We also found that shorter steps reduce the chance of a slip. A `Walking-Mode Map' for inclined-surface ambulation has also been developed. The inclined-surface results show the friction and inclination-angle-related regime of each walking mode: Slip, Forward slip at heel-strike phase in descending, Backward slip at toe-off phase in ascending, or No slip. Again, extreme caution must be taken in generalizing these small-sample results (n=1, for the inclined tests) to the general population.
The objective of the present study was to evaluate if anterior load carriage would increase the likelihood of slips or falls while walking over a slippery floor surface. The study hypothesized that anterior load carriage may alter spatial-temporal characteristics, such as heel contact velocity, walking velocity (i.e., the whole body center-of-mass velocity), and step length, as well as friction demand characteristics at shoe-floor interface. Additionally, the study hypothesized that alterations in these gait parameters may influence slip initiation characteristics while ambulating over a slippery floor surface. Total of 10 subjects participated in the study: 5 younger (18-28 yr old) and 5 older adults (65 and older). A mixture was used to manipulate the coefficient of friction (COF) of the floor surface. All participants were unexpectedly introduced to a slippery surface while walking with and without a load. To evaluate slip severity, slip distance I and II were evaluated to assess whether a subject fell or not. Three-way repeated measure ANOVA (mix-factor design) was performed: Age factor: between-subject, Load and Floor factors: within-subject. Overall, older adults' heel contact velocity was slower while carrying a load. Additionally, all participants exhibited shorter SL while carrying a load. No significant friction demand characteristic differences were observed for all subjects while carrying a 10% front load. The results from the present study suggest that carrying 10% of the body weight in front should not intensify the slip propensity and severity although appears to influence spatial-temporal gait characteristics.
"Change-in-support" balance-recovery reactions that involve rapid stepping or reaching movements play a critical role in preventing falls. Recent geriatrics studies have led to new interventions to improve ability to execute these reactions effectively. Some of these interventions have the potential to reduce fall risk for younger persons working in industrial settings. In this paper, we review research pertaining to two such interventions: 1) balance-enhancing footwear insoles designed to improve stepping reactions, and 2) proximity-triggered handrail cueing systems designed to improve reach-to-grasp reactions. The insole has a raised ridge around the perimeter that is intended to improve balance control by providing increased stimulation of sensory receptors on the footsole in situations where loss of balance may be imminent. The cueing system uses flashing lights and/or verbal prompts to attract attention to the handrail and ensure that the brain registers its location, thereby facilitating more rapid and accurate grasping of the rail if and when sudden loss of balance occurs. Results to date support the efficacy of both interventions in geriatric populations. There is also some evidence that these interventions may improve balance control in younger persons; however, further research is needed to confirm their efficacy in preventing falls in industrial settings.
We have developed an in vivo tribometer for characterizing the friction of a human heel against a planar test surface. The pedestrian steps down on an angled test surface and an observer determines if the person's heel slips. In the simplest variation, the subject simply steps down onto the test surface. The second variation has the standing subject's lower leg constrained to a vertically running carriage, forcing the pedestrian's leg to descend vertically. The third variation has the subject sitting, with an operator raising and lowering the carriage to which the leg is attached. The test surface was fixed at a given angle, a set of repeated tests was run, and the number of tests and slips were recorded. The test-surface angle was incremented through a range that varied from no slips to all slips. We analyzed the data using logistic regression. We found that the unconstrained test subject's logistic-regression curves varied greatly from subject to subject. The standing, constrained subjects were significantly closer to each other, but at the expense of a much higher spread of the angular range. The seated, constrained test subject's results were both extremely close and had extremely low angular spread.
Incidental falls from heights, falls on the same level caused by slipping or tripping, and falls from wheelchair overturns are commonplace phenomena, associated with serious injuries from impact with the ground. A wearable airbag device is a countermeasure applicable to all these types of incidents. Three types of wearable airbag systems were developed and evaluated: for protection against falls from heights (Type-1), against wheelchair overturns (Type-2), and against falls on the same level (Type-3). The systems consist of an airbag, sensor, inflator, and jacket. The sensor detects the fall and the airbag inflates to protect the user. Fall tests using dummies with/without the airbags demonstrated the effectiveness of these devices. In the experiments with system Type-1, for fall heights of less than 2m, the airbags reduced the impact acceleration, and the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) values were under 1,000, the auto-crash test requirement. However, there are limits to the amount of protection afforded: in Type-1, the airbag can protect only the back of the head.; in Types-2 and 3, the fall height of the center of gravity is lower than 2m, and there is some margin of extra protective resource, which can be used to extend the protected area.
Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common causes of injuries and fatalities in the general community and industry. The control of such incidents involves a complex array of factors including the characteristics of each individual's footwear and gait dynamics, walking and working surfaces, and environmental conditions. Notwithstanding this complexity, slip resistance properties have been widely measured as a form of coefficient of friction (COF) index at the sliding interface between the shoes and floors. Since the COF measurements were commonly adopted to evaluate slip potentials, it has been found that there were controversies in the interpretation of COF measurement results. This study, therefore, was principally focused on broadening the knowledge base and developing new ideas on which improvements in the validity and reliability of slip resistance measurements might be made. To achieve this goal, crucial problems on the current concept of slip resistance measurement were extensively analysed by a tribological point of view where principle understanding of the shoe-floor friction and wear phenomena could be made. Based on this approach, new theoretical models were suggested.
Tobacco use represents a key issue in workplace health, and much can be learned from countries where occupational smoking data has been regularly collected on a national basis. This article reviews national smoking surveys previously conducted in Australia and the United States between 1970 and 2005, and examines their relevance to the field of occupational tobacco control. When the first preliminary research was undertaken over 35 years ago, tobacco smoking was a regular feature in the general population of both countries, albeit with higher rates often documented among blue collar workers. Recent national investigations however, suggest that certain historical differences in smoking prevalence rates by occupation are persisting as we enter the 21st century. Detailed examination also indicates that employee sub-groups, such as cleaners and construction workers, are now bearing much of the occupational smoking burden in Australia and the United States. As such, there is an urgent need for more aggressive and finely targeted tobacco control activities in the workplace, as well as increased cooperation between tobacco control organizations, labor unions and other stakeholders, so that they may more effectively combat this ongoing threat to workers' health.
Depression, anxiety and stress have been recognized as important mental outcome measures in stressful working settings. The present study explores the prevalence of self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress; and their relationships with psychosocial job factors. A cross-sectional study involving 728 male automotive assembly workers was conducted in two major automotive assembly plants in Malaysia using the validated Malay versions of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) and Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ). Based on the DASS cut-off of ≥78 percentile scores, the prevalence of self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress was 35.4%, 47.2% and 31.1%, respectively. Four (0.5%), 29 (4.0%) and 2 (0.3%) workers, respectively, reported extremely severe self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress. Multiple linear regression analyses, controlling for age, education, salary, duration of work and marital status, revealed that psychological job demand, job insecurity and hazardous condition were positively associated with DASS-Depression, DASS-Anxiety and DASS-Stress; supervisor support was inversely associated with DASS-Depression and DASS-Stress. We suggest that reducing psychological job demand, job insecurity and hazardous condition factors may improve the self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress in male automotive assembly workers. Supervisor support is protective for self-perceived depression and stress.