Assessment of cumulative damage in the low back region when removing and replacing maintenance hole covers using inertial motion capture technology and fatigue-failure techniques
Event Type
TimeWednesday, October 12th3:30pm - 4:30pm EDT
LocationPoster Gallery
DescriptionUtility hole maintenance is essential to ensure that underground pipelines and other systems are in good condition. The utility maintenance hole cover prevents people, animals, and objects from entering or falling into the workspace. Workers in charge of manhole inspection open and reclose from dozens to even a hundred manholes a day, lifting covers that weigh, on average, 188 lbs. These tasks are intended to be carried out by teams of two workers; due to time constraints and other external factors, workers sometimes perform the lifting task alone.

Low-back injuries are prevalent in maintenance hole cover inspectors. Because mechanical loading of the spine has been identified as an important risk factor for low-back pain, our goal is to understand the forces and moments involved and the potential impact of cumulative damage.

This study aimed to estimate cumulative damage at the L5-S1 level using fatigue failure methods established for compressive stress for workers removing and replacing covers.
Data collection was completed during two field visits to New York City locations. Two types of manhole covers were evaluated, circular and squared. A total of three male workers volunteered as participants for the data collection. The kinematic data necessary for the kinetic estimates were obtained using a wearable inertial motion capture (IMC) system.

The study's results suggest that estimates of cumulative damage to the low back region can be obtained and assessed continuously, which allows for calculating approximations on the number of recommended exertions workers could perform daily.