New Pistol Grip Control for an Electric Utility Aerial Bucket Reduces Risk of Forearm Muscle Fatigue

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Source Publication

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting

Source ISSN



Overhead line workers have anecdotally reported elevated levels of fatigue in forearm muscles when operating the pistol grip control that maneuvers an aerial bucket on a utility truck. Previous research with surface electromyographic (sEMG) recordings of forearm muscles corroborated these reports of muscle fatigue. A new pistol grip was designed that reduces the applied force by 50% in all directions of movement. In laboratory testing, sEMG signals were recorded from the upper extremity muscles of twenty subjects, who operated a conventional-force pistol grip and the 50% reduced-force control to move a 1/15 scale model of an aerial truck boom. The muscle that resulted in the greatest sEMG activity (extensor digitorum communis (EDC)) was the muscle that workers typically pointed to when they reported forearm muscle fatigue from using the control. The reduced-forced pistol grip decreased EDC sEMG by an average of 5.6%, compared to the conventional control, increasing the maximum endurance time by 38% according to muscle fatigue models. This study was the first to quantify muscular activity of a new aerial bucket pistol grip control and the results show promise for improving the occupational health of electric utility overhead line workers, specifically reducing muscle fatigue. Before the new design of the pistol grip can be commercialized, it must be tested in the field on actual equipment.


Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, Vol. 62, No. 1 (September 1, 2018): 888-892. DOI.