Background: Transport carts are common supporting tools to move heavy weights at work. Pushing and pulling of carts can induce musculoskeletal disorders if not performed ergonomically. Reasons are dysfunctional body positions due to a given handle position and positions and composition of the transport devices as well as the roller friction and resistance. Methods and findings: The study reports (1) the development of a new handle design and (2) the effects of the handle design in combination with optimized wheels in different cart maneuvering situations. 28 industrial workers participated in the study. Body positions while cart handling were observed via 3 D-kinemetry. EMG, heart rate monitoring and RPE were used to analyze the body exposure during cart handling in different conditions (cart mass, floor, wheel, handling). Cart mass and wheel conditions determined the biomechanical strain. The new handle design was used especially by workers with lower body mass to obtain optimal points of force application. Conclusions: The study reports on the development of a new ergonomic handle design for industrial transport carts based upon a biomechanical analysis of the influences of handle orientation, height and wheel conditions on biomechanical strain, especially for cart maneuvering. The new design induces more ergonomic body positions particularly for lightweight employees.
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