Analysis of individual and occupational risk factors on task performance and biomechanical demands for a simulated drilling task Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to evaluate age- and gender-dependent effects of shoulder fatigue on task performance and muscular responses of a drilling task commonly observed within the construction industry. Twelve younger (18-35 years) and ten older (45-60 years) participants, balanced by gender, were recruited from the local community. Task performance (task completion times and errors made), muscle activity of the anterior deltoid (static, mean, and peak amplitude probability density function), coactivity indices of the upper and lower arm, and perceived discomfort ratings were obtained for a series of drilling tasks at three levels of task difficulty, before and after manifestation of shoulder fatigue. To induce fatigue, participants performed a sustained sub-maximal fatigue task at 40% of their maximum voluntary shoulder exertion. Fatigue decreased task completion times, irrespective of age and gender. Higher errors were observed in the fatigued condition, especially for younger participants. Females showed higher shoulder muscle activity compared to men. Additionally, fatigue resulted in lower shoulder APDF measures compared to the no-fatigue condition. Muscle recruitment patterns differed within the fatigue condition, with higher coactivity indices in the upper and lower arm muscles compensating for decreases in shoulder muscle activity. Task difficulty was not found to affect any dependent measures. Participants reported higher discomfort in the fatigued state; this effect was more prominent in females. Overall, this study demonstrated, through objective and subjective measures, that task performance and biomechanical demands are affected by fatigue, and that this effect varies with individual factors such as gender and age. Relevance to industry: This paper explored the influence of task demands (fatigue and task difficulty) and individual factors (gender and age) of a drilling task on the development of musculoskeletal injuries of construction workers. The results may contribute towards an understanding of the interplay of certain occupational task demands and worker characteristics on common construction tasks. 2010 Elsevier B.V.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Mehta, R. K., & Agnew, M. J.

citation count

  • 24

complete list of authors

  • Mehta, Ranjana K||Agnew, Michael J

publication date

  • September 2010