Affiliations: Department of Biomedical Engineering, UCT Medical
School, Observatory 7925, South Africa. | Biodynamics Laboratory, Department of Industrial and
Systems Engineering, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
Note:  Corresponding author: William S. Marras, Department of
Industrial, Welding and Systems Engineering, Baker Systems and Engineering, The
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.
Abstract: A laboratory investigation of the ergonomics of digging is reported.
Data on lumbar motions, ground reaction forces and posture were obtained
simultaneously as subjects transferred sand from one container to another while
standing on a force platform. Digging with a conventional spade was found to
carry a substantial probability of inclusion in a high-risk group for low back
injury. A prototype two-handled spade reduced the probability by approximately
8%. used but this was partly offset by an increase in twisting. From a
fundamental point of view, the prototype merits further evaluation. Digging is
a hazardous task when conventional spades are used and that ergonomic redesign
can reduce the risk of back injury.
Keywords: Digging, lumbar spine, hand tools, construction, agriculture, garden tools.