The ergonomics of shovelling and shovel design—an experimental study

A. Freivalds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In spite of increased automation, there is still a need for ergonomically designed manual tools in the modern consumer and industrial environment. For example, many studies have examined the work physiology involved in shovelling, but few have referred to the shovel-design parameters needed to make the task more efficient. To this end, a two-phase experimental study examined the effects of the following parameters: Lift angle, the size and shape of the blade, the hollow- and the closed-back design, the handle length on shovelling performance, the energy expenditure, the predicted low-back compressive forces and the subjective ratings of perceived exertion. The results indicated the following recommendations in shovel design: A lift angle of approximately 32°, a large, square-point blade for shovelling, a round-point blade for digging, a hollow-back construction to reduce weight, a solid socket for strength in heavy duty uses, a step for digging in hard soil and a long tapered handle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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