Creation of a register of measured values of work-related stresses of the upper extremities

Project No. IFA 4212


completed 02/2017


For many decades, diagnoses of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) based upon employees' being signed off sick have accounted for around a quarter of all working days lost owing to unfit-ness for work. Besides the lower spine and the legs, these complaints and disorders particularly affect the upper extremity. Forms of occupational physical stress that may cause MSDs of the upper extremity are repetition (continued, repeated movements or muscle contractions of the same form), static postures, exertion of force by the hands (e.g. gripping force), and the effects of hand-arm vibration (HAV). These stresses occur in the most diverse of occupations and sectors entailing manual work processes; the recording of stress profiles and the production of risks profiles from them thus requires study of the task actually being performed.

Although the stress factors stated are scientifically acknowledged, uniform and above all quantifying methods for recording stress are still not available that would assure comparability between the stress profiles of the tasks studied and thus serve as a basis for reasoned classification into risk groups.

The objective of this project is to exploit the experience gained to date in creation of a register of measured values for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) – with regard both to occupational diseases and to the prevention of MSDs of the upper extremities in a wider context – in order to develop further measurement parameters for the recording of stress profiles and methods for the production of risk profiles, and to incorporate the register of measured values into the case history software.


As in the procedure followed for creation of the register of measured values for CTS (see IFA Project 4189), suitable measurement parameters were determined and preliminary strategies for assessment identified from the literature on human factors. The CUELA system (computer-aided measurement and long-term analysis of stress upon the musculoskeletal system), to which an EMG (electromyography) module was added in Project 4189, was used to record the measurement parameters. The measurements were performed with the use of a measurement protocol specifically developed for this method and adapted to new requirements.


This method was used to obtain measured data suitable for creation of a register of measured values for occupational stresses of the upper extremity. An input form and interface were developed and implemented for incorporation of the register of measured values into the existing CTS case history software. The functionality of this software option was tested against a small number of example tasks with reference to the measured value-based evaluation scores in the register. Adaptation and further development of the software is planned. For this purpose, further tasks for which measurement analysis has been performed and new parameters for adoption are to be added to the register. Which data are to be added to the register and published has not yet been decided. A follow-on project involving several German Social Accident Insurance Institutions, in which expert ratings would be integrated and possibly also reviewed by measurements, is also under consideration.

Last Update:

6 Aug 2018


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards


musculoskeletal disorders (except cancer)

Description, key words:

musculoskeletal diseases of the upper extremities, physical stress/strain, register of measured values, risk assessment, prevention