View Full Version : What is work technique?:Summary

Lars Lindbeck
09-19-1996, 04:48 PM
Dear BIOMCH-L readers,

A fortnight ago I proposed a discussion on the topic "What is work
technique?" and raised some questions concerning possible definitions,
appropriate biomechanical variables and measurement methods, related areas
etc. I received two answers which are given below and for which I want to
express my gratitude:

Hei Lars,

kan jeg foreslaa at du ser paa arbeidet til N. A. Bernstein, russisk
fysiolog som forsket mye med arbeidsbevegelser og arbeidteknikk i
Sovjet i 1950-tallet? Jeg arbeider i idrettsteknikk med jeg finner
Bernsteins oppfatninger fremdeles de beste modeler.
Spennede fraagar, lykke til.

james major
motor behavior laboratory
university of utah


Here are some quick thoughts regarding your first two questions
regarding work technique:

I may respond later to the other questions, depending on other peoples

>1) How can "work technique" be (operationally) defined in a biomechanical
>2) Applying this definition to manual material handling, which biomechanical
>variables would be most appropriate for analyzing and evaluating work
>technique? How can these variables be measured?

1) The whole question of how to describe techniques is clearly very
complex. I suggest that it is more meaningful to use verbal
descriptions of what the technique involves rather than to produce
highly complex sequences of numbers or formulae. This means that in
most circumstances numerical comparisons of techniques will not be
appropriate. (Perhaps only when they are similar techniques which
differ on only one or two measures.)

2) Biomechanical variables relevant to manual materials handling
technique should include some measure of the 'smoothness' of lift. Thus
velocity and acceleration suggest themselves. Secondary measures such
as EMG and IAP would be useful to determine which parts of the body are
involved in the technique. Foloowing on from this, methods for
describing the synchronisation of the movements would be very useful.

I hope this stimulates discussion.

Andrew Pinder
Ergonomics and Work Psychology Section Phone: + 44 114 289 2594
Health and Safety Laboratory Fax: + 44 114 289 2526
Broad Lane email: apinder@ewps-hsl.demon.co.uk
Sheffield S3 7HQ


The first answer is from James Major and is written in a Scandinavian
language. He works with techniques in sport and reminds us about the Russian
physiologist Nicholas Bernstein, whose models he finds still are the best.

Independent of my inquiry there was a mail from Mark Latash to the BIOMCH-List:
"...On this year, the year of Bernstein centenary, we would like to share with
you a very appealing suggestion made recently by Esther Thelen: Those of us
studying movement should be required to reread Bernstein (a paper or a
Chapter) at least once a year. This is going to be a disciplinary "day of
atonement" when we recall all the times during the past year when we
thought we had an original idea, only to be reminded of the encompassing
legacy of Bernstein's genius...."

Mark Latash was chairman of the organizing committee of the Conference
"Bernstein's Traditions in Motor Control" August 22-25 at Pennsylvania
State University. It seems that the Bernstein legacy is of enormous
importance for motor control research.

However, although there is an immense activity in the science of human
movement and motor control, there are obviously few attempts to connect this
research to the work technique concept in occupational biomechanics. Maybe
the reason is that, as Andrew Pinder (who sent the second reply) wrote, "The
whole question of how to describe techniques is clearly very complex."



Lars Lindbeck, Ph. D.
National Institute for Working Life
S-171 84 SOLNA, Sweden
Tel: +46-8-730 9309, Telefax: +46-8-730 1967, +46-8-27 35 05
E-mail: Lars.Lindbeck@niwl.se