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Protecting Upper Extremities in Aircraft Maintenance

The Problem

Dozens of employees working at an aircraft maintenance facility cleaned airplane fuselage, using a powered buffing tool.  This activity occurred across dozens of aircraft surfaces, requiring employees to assume awkward and often physically demanding arm and shoulder postures.  Several of these individuals developed upper extremity injuries each year.

Action Taken

Our ergonomists at SRI-Ergonomics identified which cleaning tasks imposed the highest amounts of muscle loading on employees, using our portable electromyographic (EMG) equipment and other ergonomics assessment methods.  These analyses enabled us to determine which specific work tasks, when improved, would reduce physical work demands among these individuals.

Based on this effort, our ergonomists worked with company health & safety personnel to test and measure several possible ergonomics-related improvements.  Those job changes found to be most feasible and cost-effective were then implemented.


Just one year after these ergonomics improvements were implemented, shoulder injuries at this facility fell by more than 40%.