The effects of task duration on psychophysically-determined maximum acceptable weights and forces

Ergonomics. 1990 Feb;33(2):187-200. doi: 10.1080/00140139008927109.


The purpose of this experiment was to investigate maximum acceptable weights and forces when performing manual handling tasks continuously for four hours at frequencies of 4.3 min-1 or slower. Twelve female and ten male second shift industrial workers performed 18 varieties of lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, and carrying. A psychophysical methodology was employed, whereby the subjects were asked to select a workload they could sustain for 8 h 'without straining themselves or without becoming unusually tired, weakened, overheated or out of breath'. Measurements of heart rate, oxygen consumption, dynamic and static strengths were also taken. The weights selected after 40 min were not significantly different from the weights selected after four hours. The average oxygen consumption for the fast tasks was 28% VO2 max, within physiological guidelines for eight hours. The results also revealed that the maximum acceptable weights for the combination task of lifting, carrying, and lowering were limited by the lifting and lowering components. It is concluded from the results of this study that the psychophysical methodology is appropriate for determining maximum acceptable weights for task frequencies of 4.3 min-1 or slower. It is also concluded that the maximum acceptable weight for a combination task is limited by the lowest acceptable weight of any of the components.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Lifting