Ergonomics Working Group

Evaluation of the Musculoskeletal Hazard of Parachute Maintenance in the Active-Duty Population


The purpose of this January 1999 USACHPPM Ergonomics Program project was to evaluate the musculoskeletal hazards associated with the work tasks, tools, and work areas of active-duty soldiers in the 600th and 623d Quartermaster Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. An analysis of major work tasks, such as inspection and repair of parachute lines and canopies, was based on observations and videotapes made at the site. The Rapid upper Limb Assessment (RULA) and Ovako Working Posture Analyzing System (OWAS) were used to evaluate working postures. A review of the medical records for the companies showed that a large number of soldiers had experienced a musculoskeletal injury. The analysis revealed many areas for potential musculoskeletal injury due to prolonged standing, poorly maintained tools, and high forces required to complete tasks. Injuries sustained, however, were due primarily to nonwork-related activities or duties. Recommendations to improve the workstation included manual material handling and general ergonomics training, raising table heights to standing elbow height, regular maintenance of knives and scissors, and antifatigue matting.