Ergonomics and Beyond: Understanding How Chemical and Heat Exposures and Physical Exertions at Work Affect Functional Ability, Injury, and Long-Term Health. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To honor Tom Waters's work on emerging occupational health issues, we review the literature on physical along with chemical exposures and their impact on functional outcomes. BACKGROUND: Many occupations present the opportunity for exposure to multiple hazardous exposures, including both physical and chemical factors. However, little is known about how these different factors affect functional ability and injury. The goal of this review is to examine the relationships between these exposures, impairment of the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems, functional outcomes, and health problems with a focus on acute injury. METHOD: Literature was identified using online databases, including PubMed, Ovid Medline, and Google Scholar. References from included articles were searched for additional relevant articles. RESULTS: This review documented the limited existing literature that discussed cognitive impairment and functional disorders via neurotoxicity for physical exposures (heat and repetitive loading) and chemical exposures (pesticides, volatile organic compounds [VOCs], and heavy metals). CONCLUSION: This review supports that workers are exposed to physical and chemical exposures that are associated with negative health effects, including functional impairment and injury. Innovation in exposure assessment with respect to quantifying the joint exposure to these different exposures is especially needed for developing risk assessment models and, ultimately, preventive measures. APPLICATION: Along with physical exposures, chemical exposures need to be considered, alone and in combination, in assessing functional ability and occupationally related injuries.

published proceedings

  • Hum Factors

altmetric score

  • 3.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Ross, J. A., Shipp, E. M., Trueblood, A. B., & Bhattacharya, A

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Ross, Jennifer A||Shipp, Eva M||Trueblood, Amber B||Bhattacharya, Amit

publication date

  • August 2016