n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Influences on human functional strength exertion : research article

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1010-2728



Functional strength is understood as the exertion of muscle strength by an individual in order to carry out functional tasks such as driving a delivery truck that requires the pushing of the gear lever and foot pedals or in the lifting and stacking of boxes. Manual handling of heavy objects requires just such functional strength. It is not an isolated muscle action, but a synergistic action that is the result of both characteristics of the individual and the environment in which they are working. A review of the literature relating to the influences on human functional strength exertion was conducted with the focus on aspects of functional strength for manual handling which could be applied within an ergonomics context. The aim was to understand the challenge in collecting and presenting human strength data which can be best applied by ergonomists and engineers alike to improve the human interface of products, vehicles or machines. The characteristics of the individual such as anthropometric dimensions, aerobic capacity and fitness levels are known to contribute to the ability to exert strength and carry out manual handling tasks which are required in many jobs. The influences such as the environmental stressors, hand coupling and working in restricted spaces have also been discussed. The determination of manual handling capability of an individual or population by a functional test that relates specifically to the ergonomic components of the job remains the most applicable form of data collection.

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