Strength capabilities and subjective limits in repetitive manual exertions: task and hand dominance effects

AIHA J (Fairfax, Va). 2003 Nov-Dec;64(6):763-70. doi: 10.1202/510.1.


Strength and subjectively determined exertion limits are used widely for ergonomic evaluation. Although compilations of such data for the hand and finger exist, several important limitations include the use of inexperienced participants and constrained postures. In this study both strength and maximum acceptable limits (MAL, 2-hour duration) were obtained from both industrial workers and inexperienced volunteers in 10 simulated hand-intensive automotive assembly tasks. To expand the applicability of the results, the effects of hand-dominance were also determined. Results were compared with existing recommendations (by Kodak and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists threshold limit value for hand-intensive activities), and showed that across the diverse tasks the former yields values slightly below the 1st percentile of MAL, whereas the latter values are slightly higher than the 25th percentile. MALs were found to be approximately 50% of strength, consistent with earlier reports, and suggesting that acceptable limits are strongly influenced by physical capacity. Substantial differences ( approximately 30%) in strength and MALs were found between the two participant groups, emphasizing that participants should resemble the target population. Hand-dominance effects were statistically significant though of moderate size ( approximately 5%). Strength and MAL distributions are provided that can be used for evaluation and design of a variety of hand-intensive occupational tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hand Strength*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Workplace