Applied Force and sEMG Muscle Activity Required To Operate Pistol Grip Control in an Electric Utility Aerial Bucket
Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting
Electric utility line workers report high levels of fatigue in forearm muscles when operating a conventional pistol grip control in aerial buckets. This study measured the applied force and surface electromyographic (sEMG) signals from four upper extremity muscles required to operate the pistol grip control in two tasks. The first task was movement of the pistol grip in six directions (up/down, forward/rearward, clockwise/counter-clockwise), and the second task was movement of the bucket from its resting position on the truck bed to an overhead conductor on top of a 40 ft tall pole. The force applied to the pistol grip was measured in 14 aerial bucket trucks, and sEMG activity was measured on eight apprentice line workers.
The applied force required to move the pistol grip control in the six directions ranged from 12 to 15 lb. The sEMG activity in the extensor digitorum communis (EDC) forearm muscle was approximately twice as great or more than the other three muscles (flexor digitorum superficialis, triceps, and biceps). Line workers exerted 14 to 30% MVCEMG to move the pistol grip in the six directions. Average %MVCEMG of the EDC to move the bucket from the truck platform to an overhead line ranged from 26 to 30% across the four phases of the task. The sEMG findings from this study provide physiologic evidence to support the anecdotal reports of muscle fatigue from line workers after using the pistol grip control for repeated, long durations.