Postural, epidemiological and biomechanical analysis of luggage handling in an aircraft luggage compartment

Appl Ergon. 1986 Sep;17(3):177-83. doi: 10.1016/0003-6870(86)90003-7.


Loading and unloading of luggage in an aircraft luggage compartment is carried out manually in uncomfortable working position. In this study, the loading work was analysed by surveying musculoskeletal symptoms, by recording the working postures and techniques at work, and by simulating the loading work in a mock-up of a DC-9 aircraft compartment. Low back, knees and shoulders were exposed to mechanical load in luggage handling. Video recordings were used to analyse posture and work technique. In the simulated luggage compartment in the laboratory, ground reaction forces, intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and electromyography (EMG) signals from back and shoulder muscles were recorded simultaneously. Loading in sitting, squatting and kneeling were the postures that were used the most often. Unloading was generally less stressful than loading, involving less static work. Handling time was shortest when kneeling but knee symptoms were dominant. Lateral ground reaction forces and EMG activity from trapezius were highest when sitting, and IAP peaks were greatest when squatting. Thus each posture had major, though differing, disadvantages and a radical redesign of the DC-9 luggage compartment was clearly indicated.