Ergonomic assessment of postal workers' pain symptoms and musculoskeletal risks related to parcel processing activity for delivery

EXCLI J. 2022 Apr 27;21:744-756. doi: 10.17179/excli2022-4857. eCollection 2022.

Abstract

The parcel delivery activity is carried out all over the world and workers in this sector have suffered from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) due to the strong demand for work generated by the recent increase in e-commerce. This study aimed to evaluate postal workers' pain symptoms, movements and identify MSDs risks related to the parcel processing activity for delivery, proposing preventive measures. A sample of thirty-two workers was evaluated with the application of sociodemographic and Nordic questionnaires and electrical bioimpedance. The motion capture sensors were used to evaluate right/left shoulder joints, segment C7-T1 (Cervical) and segment L5-S1 (Lumbar) of three postal workers (percentiles of anthropometric data: 5, 50, and 95) during four real work activities that are part of the parcel processing. The analyzed workers presented musculoskeletal complaints in practically all body regions, with a greater prevalence in shoulders, hands, lower back, and knees. According to the Body Mass Index (BMI), they were on average overweight (27.8 ± 3.7 kg/m2). In the movement analysis, we identified risks related to cervical protrusion, anterior trunk flexion, and shoulder flexion, in addition to repetitive movements. In some activities, the higher stature showed an increase in lumbar and cervical anterior flexion. The set of evaluations showed that the activity of processing orders for delivery offers musculoskeletal risks. We identify that ergonomic adaptations are necessary to adapt the heights of the work environment to the statures of the postal workers. Relevance to industry: The activity of processing orders for delivery is carried out practically all over the world generating jobs and income for its employees. Nonetheless, there are still situations of ergonomic disadvantage that can generate musculoskeletal risks. The findings elucidate ergonomic risks and provide useful information for future ergonomic interventions in the postal/delivery workplace environment.

Keywords: anthropometric data; motion capture; musculoskeletal disorders; parcel processing.