IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Exploratory study of mechanics’ work involving small mechanical tools in relation to upper-limb MSDs in the automobile services sector


In the automobile services sector, upper limb musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are responsible for longer absences and higher costs than in several other workplaces. The weight of the tools, and the postures required for their use, are potential factors in the appearance of these MSDs. However, the physical constraints imposed on mechanics, painters and autobody repairers by the use of their tools are still poorly evaluated, and therefore, poorly understood.

The authors investigated 10 tasks considered at risk of causing upper limb MSDs; they analyzed 46 observation sessions, with the participation of 35 workers, in 12 body shops and garages.

This study shows that it is not a posture per se that constitutes a risk of MSD onset, but the fact of having to maintain it for long periods, particularly when the shoulder is involved, even if the tool being handled is not very heavy. This is also true for mechanical or autobody components handled. Each task studied has its own upper limb MSD risk profile, and this report presents the main problems observed, as well as solution scenarios favoured or used by some workers in this sector. The relationship between performances and tool use time, posture, and the task of painters, body repairmen, installers and mechanics becomes an interesting avenue for future research.

Additional Information

Type: Project
Number: 0099-5480
Status: Completed
Year of completion: 2010
  • Denis Giguère (IRSST)
  • Denis Marchand (Université du Québec à Montréal )
  • Thierry Petitjean-Roget (IRSST)