An analysis of muscle fatigue due to complex tasks and its relation to the strain index
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The Strain Index was originally designed to analyze mono-task jobs. An experiment using a grip dynamometer was used to simulate six multiple task jobs to study the effect of complex tasks on localized muscle fatigue and to evaluate six different models used to calcula te a Complex Strain Index score. These models included average Strain Index score, unadjusted summation, duration adjusted summation, complex equation, minimum intensity, and peak intensity. Two methods of calculating a continuous Strain Index score were also analyzed. Ratings of perceived exertion, hand and forearm fatigue and discomfort, Difficulty Rating, maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), and percent strength loss were recorded for each of the six treatments. Electromyography (EMG) was also recorded for the 24 subjects (12 males and females) who completed the experiment. The EMG signal was analyzed using root mean square (RMS), initial mean power frequency (IMnPF), and slope of the mean power frequency (MnPF). Each treatment, lasting one hour each, contained a primary exertion (Task 1) of either 10% or 40% MVC for three seconds and a secondary exertion (Task 2) of either 10% or 40% MVC for one or three seconds. Subjective variables linearly increased (R2 > 0.88) over the duration of the treatments and significantly differed between treatments (p < 0.05). Percent strength loss was the only variable with a gender effect (p < 0.05). RMS values did not indicate fatigue and were constant over each treatment, but were highly correlated with percent MVC. A significant difference was not found in IMnPF between pre and post treatment values or between treatments (p > 0.05). A significant difference was found for MnPF slope pre and post treatment, but no treatment effect was found (p > 0.05). The complex equation method of calculating a Strain Index score was the only model of the six evaluated that met all criteria for being an acceptable method of calculating a Complex Strain Index score. The two continuous methods presented for calculating a Strain Index score should not be used for job analysis until further research evaluates their reliability, validity, and critical scores for Hazard Classification.
Stephens, John-Paul (2006). An analysis of muscle fatigue due to complex tasks and its relation to the strain index. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from