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Physical strains / work intensity

Physical strains are a part of human existence and absolutely essential to preserve health. The aim of the design of physical work is therefore the creation of an optimum relationship between workload and individual endurance. Long-lasting excessive loads, insufficient loads and one-sided loads must be avoided.

Preventive approaches

The Occupational Safety and Health Act demands a risk estimation. The results provide the basis for operational action. Where dangers are known, preventive measures are required. These can be technological, ergonomic or organisational redesign measures and special occupational health care. Sound risk analyses are the basic prerequisite in order to justify effective and efficient measures. This requires a description of the form of strain, the duration, the frequency and sequence as well as the evaluation of the danger potential.

Forms of workload

There are six different forms of active physical workload:

Stress reactions

Each form of load leads to specific stress reactions in the human body. If there is overstrain with high intensity or inadequate recuperation, there is the danger of damage. A prediction of the extent of the damage anticipated is only possible in a general sense, because not only work-related loads are relevant, but also individual factors.

Inappropriate strains

The limit of physical durability differs considerably from individual to individual and depends on a number of influencing factors, such as constitution, health, age, sex, level of training and working technique. The negative consequences of inappropriate physical strains are acute fatigue and long-term, chronic degenerative changes and complaints in the joints, muscles, sinews and peripheral nerves.

In addition there are numerous injuries due to accidents. These take place most often when loads are handled. Typical examples are sudden loss of control of the load, stumbling or falling. The consequences are sprains, strains, inappropriate lifting, blockage of spinal joints or broken bones.

There are no legally binding limit values for the loading of the cardiovascular system and of the musculo-skeletal system, but there is sound work science knowledge.

Further information is only available in German.

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"Guide for determining hazard-related occupational safety and health measures at the workplace"

The guide is based on our authors' specialist knowledge.