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Ergonomics. 2013;56(4):682-91. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2013.765602. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

The natural angle between the hand and handle and the effect of handle orientation on wrist radial/ulnar deviation during maximal push exertions.

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Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Kettering University, Flint, MI 48504, USA.


The purpose of this experiment was to quantify the natural angle between the hand and a handle, and to investigate three design factors: handle rotation, handle tilt and between-handle width on the natural angle as well as resultant wrist radial/ulnar deviation ('RUD') for pushing tasks. Photographs taken of the right upper limb of 31 participants (14 women and 17 men) performing maximal seated push exertions on different handles were analysed. Natural hand/handle angle and RUD were assessed. It was found that all of the three design factors significantly affected natural handle angle and wrist RUD, but participant gender did not. The natural angle between the hand and the cylindrical handle was 65 ± 7°. Wrist deviation was reduced for handles that were rotated 0° (horizontal) and at the narrow width (31 cm). Handles that were tilted forward 15° reduced radial deviation consistently (12-13°) across handle conditions.


Manual materials handling (MMH) tasks involving pushing have been related to increased risk of musculoskeletal injury. This study shows that handle orientation influences hand and wrist posture during pushing, and suggests that the design of push handles on carts and other MMH aids can be improved by adjusting their orientation to fit the natural interface between the hand and handle.

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