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Appfied Ergonomics 1988, 19.

2, 111 - 121

Determinants of load carrying ability
M.F. Haisman

Army Personnel ResearchEstablishment, Farnborough, Hants. GU14 6TD, UK
The aim of this paper is to review the literature in respect of the main determinants of
a person's load carrying ability. Possible determinants of load carriage ability include age,
anthropometry, aerobic and anaerobic power, muscle strength, body composition and
gender; other relevant factors are the subjective effects perceived during load carriage,
the dimensions and placement of the load, biomechanical factors, nature of the terrain
and the gradient, the effect of climate and protective clothing. It is important to
distinguish between the maximum load carrying capacity and load carriage ability
which enables the individual to retain the capability to perform other tasks - eg,
observation and navigation, or industrial tasks. The soldier has been used as the worst
case example of extremely heavy loads having to be carried for long durations; civilian
examples are usually less demanding except in the case of mountaineers, explorers and
some occupations.
The energy cost of walking with loads has been found to depend primarily upon the
walking speed, body weight and load weight, together with terrain factors such as
gradient and surface type; equations exist which allow the prediction of energy
expenditure from these variables, and they can provide a valuable guide in assessing
the physical severity of proposed tasks involving load carriage. Other factors such as
the degree of environmental heat stress and protective clothing worn would have to
be taken into account, but the level of energy expenditure (or heat production) assumes
central importance as it is related to physical exhaustion, heat exhaustion and also less
directly to the efficiency of performance of occupational tasks involving load carriage.
This review confirms that there is no obvious definition of a maximal load, because of
the widely varying circumstances which might apply, but for healthy young males there
appears to be some consensus for the traditional rule of thumb of one-third body
weight, or 24 kg on an assumed mean body weight of 72 kg, or in terms of relative
work load equivalent to one-third of the VO 2 max for a working day. Renbourn (1954c)
considered that the load carried by the soldier will probably always be a compromise
between what is physiologically sound and what is operationally essential. Load carriage
in industrial and other civilian areas will also involve a similar compromise and may in
some circumstances lead to important implications for health and safety.

Keywords: Physical exertion, performance assessment, load carrying

I ntroduction
Interest in the military aspects of individual load carriage
is longstanding and was recorded in such reports as the
British Royal Commission of 1858 quoted by Renbourn
(1954a). A number of reviews cover various aspects of load
carriage - for example, energy expenditure studies
(Passmore and Durnin, 1955; Redfearn et al, 1956);
physiological limitations of the soldier and load carriage
development (Kennedy, et al, 1973); the effects of load

Copyright ~) HMSO, London (1987)

carriage on military performance (Lotens, 1982). The
manual handling and lifting review by Troup and Edwards
(1985) is particularly concerned with the back and includes
references to carrying problems.
The scope of this review includes studies which are
concerned with load carried on the trunk, hands or head,
whereas lifting in a static position, (eg, I_egg and Pateman,
1984), and also the use of mechanical devices such as wheels,
(Haisman et al, 1972) have not been considered. The aim is
to draw together the main factors which affect load carriage
itself, from civilian as well as military spheres. Although
much of the early research was done from a military
standpoint, more recent work has examined occupational

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Applied Ergonomics

June 1988


Magnusson et al (1987) investigated butchering.load carriage. Additional equipment to be added There are a number of additional items which could have to be carried ranging in weight up to 16 kg Applied Ergonomics June 1988 Weight Total weight 7.4 3"7 30-0 10"2 40. safe and optimal load concepts will be examined. particularly in respect of occupational health problems.2 . firemen (Louhevaara et al. radios and extra equipment the total weight carried can escalate to the very high figures quoted for military operations . While it is more logical to relate the load to the body weight. brewery drivers (Astrand. Severe load carriage tasks The extent of the military load carriage problem may not be fully appreciated. whereas other studies are related to the increase in popularity of leisure activities such as 'back-packing'. as it is obvious that a 30 kg load is a Table 1: Weights of clothing and personal equipment carried by a British infantryman (kg) 112 A. and the total load was greater than 4000 kg per day. 1958). together with heavy manual handling and lifting. postmen (Ilmarinen et al. either because it is believed that mechanised transport will always be available. Winsmann and Goldman (1976) compared load carriage systems and they showed that provided the weight is properly distributed over the body. which can be caused by the carriage of heavy loads. Combat order Dress and equipment as in A'& B. Maximal. As an example of an industrial task. B & C. refuse disposal operators and cable twisters (Garg et al. The direct effects of carrying excessive or unbalanced loads. up to 68 kg in the Falklands operation (McCaig and Gooderson. weapon. 1987). an infantryman's load (Table 1).0 7"0 19. adding protective clothing and basic existence load increases it to 28 kg. 1967) that the physiological efficiency of load carriage falls at high load weights. strength. Other military groups besides the infantry have demanding load carriage tasks. 1968). rations. Factors affecting load carrying ability Factors affecting load carriage have been examined m order to assess their importance. or because the diversity of the equipments involved obscures the large weights involved . and if the load is not going to impair efficiency to a marked extent this weight limit ought to be less than 30 kg. Assault dress Clothing etc as in A. ammunition. may be more difficult to quantify. This problem of water uptake has been minimised by using water-resistant materials but that extra load has now been replaced by other equipment (Table 1). 1985). Noro (1967) noted the importance of load carrying as a possible cause of injury and ill health in industrial workers.(1923) described the problem of a heavy load of 27 kg increasing to 43 kg because of water and mud soaking into the clothing and equipment. Dress Clothing. such as musculo-skeletal disorders. and to seek ways of minimising the overall strain on tile radio operators carry loads of about 35 kg. such as march fracture. On the other hand there is evidence (Durnin and Passmore. mines rescue personnel (Lind and McNicol.for example. Marshall (1950) cites training loads of about 27 kg for US troops being increased in combat. 1986). Marching order Clothing and equipment as in A. rucksack and sleeping bag E. Load factors 1. food and warm clothing D. In respect of the maximal load carriage capacity of man. 1984). Many other civilian occupations involve load carriage . Cady et al (1979) showed that in a group of 1652 firefighters. M a x i m u m weight of'load There have been numerous attempts to define the upper limit of weight to be carried by the soldier. 1987).a basic load is 17 kg. digging tool and equipment C. spare clothing. lifting and carrying boxes (up to 40 kg) and meat parts (up to 70 kg) were common tasks. weight per se is the most important factor in load carriage rather than the specific load-carriage system design. United States infantrymen also have heavy loads (Kennedy et al. There is clearly a case for setting an upper limit to the weight carried. with the addition of support boots and helmet B. which have been implicated as risk factors in low back pain on the basis of epidemiological studies (Dul and Hildebrandt. Daniels (1956) cited reports of observations of loads of up to about 180 kg being carried using a Korean A frame.4 26. especially at fast speeds and up inclines. Renbourn (1954c) has describe(i some of the medical conditions. 1973) . The basic clothing assembly weighs 7 kg and the Assault Dress equipment increases the total to 26 kg. and steel workers. During World War 1 the soldier became grossly overloaded: Cathcart et al. Soule et al (1978) showed that the constancy of measured energy expenditure per kg of load (or body weight) extended up to loads of 70 kg provided the load was well balanced and close to the centre of gravity of the body. 1978). fitness and physical conditioning exerted a preventive effect on subsequent back injuries. large quantities of ammunition weighing up to 45 kg may have to be manually handled (Legg and Patton. Carrying is one aspect of dynamic work. The authors suggested that these heavy loads contributed to a high incidence of physical disorders of the back and shoulders among butchers.

although few are related to carrying per se. in agreement with Soule and Goldman (1969). Borghols etal (1977) investigated loads up to 30 kg carried on the back and showed that in their subjects each extra kilogram of weight increased VO2 by 33. The front/back pack combination and a load carrying jacket were subjectively rated as more comfortable than the back packs (with or without frame). Burton (1986). Cathcart et al (1923) recommended that under laboratory conditions the maximum load for the maintenance of efficiency and health should be 40% of body weight. Physical characteristics o f man 1. For hand carried weights (1"8 kg in each hand). The fatiguing effects of carrying weight on the lower extremities (ankle spats) have been utilised to induce physical conditioning in sedentary middle-aged men 0aandolf and Goldman. 2. hands and feet were. heart rate analysis revealed no differences between the two but EMG analysis showed lower muscle tension associated with the lower. and has considered the effect of load carriage on the spine. Strydom et al (1968) reported that provided the boot weight was no more than 1'8-2"9 kg per pair there was no increase in oxygen consumption.78 kg per pair) had a higher energy cost for walking (except for the slowest walking speed) and running than for the same activity whenwearing atl-detic shoes (weight 0. In contrast. 3. Amor and Vogel (1974) compared three methods of carrying a missile 35 kg inweight and I "2m in length. Gracovetsky (1986) has reviewed the biomechanical criteria used in the formulation of safe loads for lifting and carrying. especially for heavy loads (40% of body weight). in the ratio of l'2x for the head. Torre (1973) investigated the effects of weight and length of a missile system on performance and found that the soldier was reluctant to carry loads longer than 0"79m (at 3"6 kg) when added to his existing load. Ghori and Luckwill (1985) investigated loads up to 20% body weight carried in either hand. The maximum possible weight to be carried on the head of an Indian worker was defined as 30 kg (Datta et al. which rose steeply above 40% of body weight. and for service conditions they accepted the traditional limit of one-third of body weight. Evans et al (1983) defined a hyperbolic relationship between time to exhaustion for load holding or for load carrying in the hands. Jones et al (1984) showed that subj ects wearing boots (1. Balogun et al (1986). (a) Load placed on the head. however. Lind and McNicol (1968) examined the blood pressure and heart rate responses to holding and carrying weights by hand and by shoulder harness in the context of the stretcher-carrying task of mine rescue personnel. In trying to apply these guidelines to an industrial workforce it should be remembered that this population may be older and less fit compared with young healthy soldiers. The weight carried by the soldier steadily increased during World War I up to 85% of body weight (Renbourn. 1975). Changes in several parameters were observed with the heavier loads on the back and in the hand but were not large considering the substantial loads involved.for females (Jones et al. and even that number could be increased by consideration of both high and low back-packs. they found a fatiguing response from hand carriage in excess of 10 kg. Using biomechanical techniques. a double pack (front and back) proved to be the best and the hands the worst in terms of physiological efficiency. (Gooderson. because forward lean was reduced and the gait characteristics were closer to unloaded walking. hands or feet Soule and Goldman (1969) showed that energy costs of carrying a load on the head. heart rate by 1"1 beats/min and pulmonary ventilation by 0"6 1/min. the increments in heart rate at exhaustion were linearly related to load and were always greater for carrying than holding. On the basis of the energy cost of load carriage. 1986). and loads up to 50% carried on the back whilst subjects walked at a comfortable speed. 1976) but a reasonable load for a 91 kg man (95th percentile). Dimensions o f the load Morrissey and Liou (1984) varied the dimensions and weights of boxes carried in two hands by subjects walking on the level and showed that the width of the container can influence the metabolic cost of carrying. found that the metabolic efficiencies (VO2 per kg total weight) of a headpack and a transverse yoke system of carriage were better than a front yoke system. Essentially similar results showing an increment of energy cost of 1 "0% per 100 g increase in weight of footwear was found. this dimension factor can be included in prediction equations for energy cost. 1954b). Using a biomechanical approach. found that clutching a shopping bag (US style) created a lower and more even load on the spinal musculature compared with carrying the load by handles (UK method). Applied Ergonomics June 1988 113 . 1975). and mass of the load up to 40 kg. Body weight That the maximum comfort load should be related to body weight is an idea of long standing. Again using electromyographical techniques. 1"9x for the hands and 4 . in comparison to a no load condition. Troup and Edwards (1985) have drawn together limits and regulations for manual handling. Marshall (1950) cites the British and other studies to recommend an optimal marching load of not more than one-third of body weight. and shoulder carriage in excess of 80 kg.62 kg per pair). they found no difference in energy cost between the methods but the subjects preferred to carry the missile in a horizontal position on the back. Bobet and Norman (1984) compared two different load placements Oust below mid-back or just above shoulder level). it may. (b) Alternative load carriage methods on the trunk Datta and Ramanathan (1971) compared seven methods of carrying loads of 30 kg. using electromyographic analysis of lumbar and suprascapular muscle activity. but the front/back pack was associated with a restrictive type of ventilatory impairment. back load. a double pack (front and back) was more effective. Legg and Mahanty (1986) found that the increase in energy cost of carrying weight on the feet was 6"4x that of carriage on the trunk. Francis and Hoobler (1986) could only detect an increase in energy cost compared to a no load condition when running and not when walking. more stable.6 x for the feet (up to 6 kg on each foot).5 ml/min. be quite impractical to tailor the load to body weight. Kinoshita (1985) showed that compared with a back-pack system. I_egg and Mahanty (1985) compared five methods of carrying a load of 35% body weight on the trunk and found that there were no significant physiological differences between them. together with anaylsis of heart rate increments. Load placement Legg (1985) listed 12 different possibilities for load carriage on the body.very heavy one for a 58 kg man (5th percentile for British Infantry.

Saltin (1969) showed that the absolute improvement in VO2 max is 33% starting from a post-3 weeks of bed-rest level.Kinoshita (1985) cites a number of studies to support the statement that the weight of the individual load should not exceed 40% of body weight for continuous carrying. very lean (body fat 8"3%) and had a high VO2 max relative to their body weight. McFarland (1969). VO2 max will be a major determinan~ of the severity of load carriage tasks which can be sustained for a prolonged period. total weight minus fat) and secondly. Bink (1964) recommended (tematlvely) that ilk workload should not exceed 33% VO2 max during a 5013 minute work day.i e. and in particular with muscle mass. this represents about 12 kg less of external load which he can carry. 1986). 1956). equivalent to about 0. 2. semi-starvation with consequent loss of lean body mass (Keys et al. especially back length and waist circumference. 1984). in a step-wise multiple regression analysis only hamstring muscle strength emerged as a significant predictor of march time. and dehydration (Buskirk et al. excess body fat is dead weight in the performance of work and degrades the performance of physical tasks involving movement of the body and external load. Shoenfeld et al (1977) used the size of the decrement in VO2 max after load carriage by young men to assess the maximum load which should be carried for 20 kin. 1968) and also as an index of ability to perform maximal work (Taylor et al. Factors such as these will tend to lower the maximal load carriage capacity.for example. According to surveys of the tasks which soldiers undertake in the US Army. 1955. Mitchell et al. As VO2 max is usually correlated with body weight. Maximal isometric lifting strength has been included in test batteries designed for the pre-employment screening of" workers for jobs involving heavy manual handling (Griffin et al. the Wingate ergometer test (Bar-Or et al. 2. 1987). non-exercising individuals. box size and the hand positions adopted in industrial box handling. Physiological factors 1.e g. reviewing the safety of carrying objects in occupational tasks. It follows that factors which will raise VO2 max will improve the ability to carry loads. 1957) and is a positive factor in load carriage ability. 1972). Conversely.that is. 3. Saha et al (1979) proposed that an acceptable workload for average young Indian workers in comfortable thermal conditions should be 35% VO2 max. Shephard. 1958). Edholm (1967) suggested a somewhat lower limit of 2000 kcal during work. Methods of measurement of anaerobic power are available . whereas the spontaneously chosen work load in building work corresponds with about 40% of individual VO2 max (Astrand. Isometric muscle strength can be measured using strain gauge dynamometers (Hermansen et al. assuming he need only have about 9 kg of fat (i e. 1980) -and some of these methods have been compared recently (Patton and Duggan. high altitude (laugh et al. 1967). and the converse will also be true. Drury et al (1982) defined relationships between the height and weight of workers. 1956. and by using an isokinetic dynamometer. but the improvement is highly dependent upon the initial level of VO 2 max and may be about 20% for average. 1958). Individuals with a high body weight can therefore carry greater loads. Dziados et al (1987) found that although VO2 max correlated with performance time. considered that objects carried with hand grips become 'heavy' at about 35% of body weight. and 50% for intermittent or occasional carrying. will be important. but as will be discussed later the constituent proportions of body weight. M a x i m u m anaerobic power and muscle strength Anaerobic power and muscle strength are important for activities of high intensity for brief periods of time . a considerable proportion require muscle strength. B o d y composition The main body composition factors to affect load carriage are. the size of the lean body mass (i e. 1950). they concluded that for individuals in good physical condition this should not exceed 25 kg . A man weighing 85 kg with 25% body fat is carrying about 21 kg of body fat. however. It has been shown by a large number of studies that aerobic physical training will increase VO2 max. To summarise. just over one-third of the body weight of a 70 kg man. whether muscle or fat. 1964). pulling. Shapiro et al (1973) recommended that adjusting the work intensity during prolonged work to the individual's VO2 max should minimise muscle enzyme leakage and muscle damage. or slow the walking speed at which the load can be carried. but Astrand (1960) showed that working at 50% could produce objective and subjective indications of fatigue.85 litres VO2/min for an 8 hour day. Lean body mass is highly correlated with VO2 max (Buskirk and Taylor. Davis (1983) reviewed the literature of fatigue caused by load carriage and suggested that long carries by males of more than 25 kg should be avoided. the proportion of the total weight which is fat. corresponding to 18"0 kJ/min energy expenditure (or 0"88 1/min VO2) and 110 beats/min for 114 Applied Ergonomics June 1988 heart rate. about 10% of body weight) for good health. M a x i m u m aerobic p o w e r I V 0 2 max) VO2 max is much used as an index of cardio-respiratory performance (Astrand. A number of factors have been associated with a decrease in VO2 max . handling heavy weights such as artillery shells. 1976). less than 1 min. individuals with a high V Q max (l/min) and large load carriage capacity will also tend to have higher than average body weight or muscle mass. Another important consideration is that a well-trained man cannot be expected to work all day at a work level equivalent to more than 50% of his VO2 max without becoming fatigued (Astrand. pushing and throwing (NATO. hence the utility of expressing VO 2 max on a body weight basis as an expression of aerobic fitness. firstly. 1978). Indian porters appear to be an exception to any generalisations about the advantages of high body weight in load carriage. In a recent study on 49 infantrymen carrying 18 kg on a maximal effort 10 mile road march. dynamic muscle strength and muscle endurance can be measured (Thorstensson. These subjects were. A n t h r o p o m e t r i c dimensions The design of load carriage equipment must take into account the range of dimensions in key anthropometric variables in the population to be fitted. Nag et al (1978) studied porters of mean body weight 53 kg who carried loads up to 100 kg on the treadmill. increasing age (Hermansen. . e g.

Snook and Ciriello. the energy cost of walking at standard speeds with loads is increased compared with that predicted Applied Ergonomics June 1988 115 . This effect of ageing is likely to be associated with the decline in maximal heart rate with increasing age (Robinson. and the males achieved higher blood lactate levels than the females. RPE is a useful tool for evaluating the severity of a load carriage task. 5. Females were shown to change their gait characteristics (stride length and swing time) more than males as the carried load was increased. Although the males had a higher absolute energy expenditure than the females. 1974). Durnin et al (1966) found that the metabolic rate. 1b. but in contrast. the males carried 12 kg (in the hands) and the females 10 kg. particularly in the arm muscles (Vogel and Patton. Based on indices of physiological cost. VO2 max (ml/kg/min) will decline as the body fat (as a percentage of body weight) increases with age (Durnin and Womersley. decreased from 41 kg for the youngest group to 11 kg for the oldest. Furthermore. and Martin and Nelson (1986) concluded that absolute loads for fcmales should be lower because of biomechanical as well as physiological considerations. work which required oxygen intakes up to 2"5 1/min.2 hours duration. although aimed primarily at work postures when using industrial machines. Subjective aspects of load carriage Subjective reactions to the task can be considered in terms of the application of ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and other rating scales as measures of the acceptability or the severity of the task. When increments in RPE with increases in loads carried were compared with increases in heart rate and oxygen consumption.Hot climates Kamon and Belding (1971) found no difference in the metabolic costs of carrying loads up to 20 kg in the hands in hot climates (35 and 45°C) compared with those in a temperate climate. Samanta et al (1987) found that the maximum permissible load carried on the head (as defined by the load at 35% VO2 max) by groups of Indian porters ranging in age from 20 to over 50 years. compared with similar work in a temperate climate. 1985). Evans et al (1980) compared fit young males and females in a self-paced load carriage task of 1 . 1978). Gender Snook and Ciriello (1974a) determined maximum weights and workloads for females on six carrying tasks. higher and greater loads decreasing the stability. Borg (1970) developed a scale to elicit RPE from the relationships between the physiological responses and the subjective ratings to different levels of work. lower VO2 max and lower muscle strength. During their daily work they were engaged in carrying 5 0 . if accentuated by load carriage. higher body fat. Astrand (1958) investigated a group of truck drivers aged 5 0 . ratings according to this scale correlated with exercise blood lactate levels and may prove useful in future load carriage studies. and the stability in females was always less than males. may dominate the overall perception of exertion. 1938). only the rest period spent in neutral conditions proved adequate. 1986). Borg (1982) described a new category scale with ratio properties. thus 'local' factors. 1974a). Although both sexes worked at the same relative load. Age It has already been mentioned that VO2 max decreases with age (Hermansen. women will be at a disadvantage in load carriage tasks because. which is discussed later.5 m). can be adapted to assess local discomfort on a load carriage task. in relative terms the two groups were very similar at about 45% of the V02 max. 1970. Climate la. Environmental factors 1. The scale of Corlett and Bishop (1976). Snook (1978) has undertaken a number of studies on manual handing using a psycho-physical approach and has published tables of maximum acceptable weights for males and females from an industrial population to carry over short distances (up to 8. 1978).8 0 cases of beer (43 kg). Davies and Sargeant (1979) considered that heart rate has little influence on RPE and is not an important factor in the perception of effort. but heart rate was found to increase by 7--10 beats for each 10°C in air temperature. Using this scale. Although in some circumstances RPE correlates with the heart rate. they tend to have lower body weight. Pandolf (1977) emphasised the importance of both local and central factors. sweat rate and body temperature of acclimatised subjects carrying loads were all elevated in hot-wet and hot-dry climates. Krajewski et al (1979) investigated a load carriage task demanding 30% and then 75% of VO2 max in men and women in warm-humid and hot-dry ambient conditions in order to validate the length of rest periods required. fatigue and the need for rest pauses.4. or for comparing different methods of carrying a load (Legg and Mahanty.6 4 years (VO2 max 2'5 1/min at a heart rate of 160 beats/min). Cold climates In cold climates. also in terms of the psychophysical approach to manual handling developed by Snook (1978). Judging by the heart rate plateau and limits of core temperature rise. Davis (1983) showed that stability decreases when loads are held at and above the waist level. Randle and Legg (1985) showed that local discomfort was lower in subjects walking uphill in hot conditions than when additionally carrying 20 kg in the arms at the same external work rate. it was found that the perception of exertion increased faster than the cardio-respiratory measures (Goslin and Rorke. Snook and Ciriello (1974b) showed that load carrying ability was reduced by 11% in a hot environment (WBGT 27°C) with significantly higher rectal temperature and heart rate. compared with men. (Snook et al. This information can contribute to guidelines for the design of manual handling jobs and possibly reduce the back injuries attributable to such tasks. presumably because of the greater static component in the carrying task. using numbers anchored by verbal expressions which were simple and understandable to most people. although women handled significantly less weight than men they experienced similar or higher heart rates. heart rate. Pierrynowski e t al (1981 a) also found that increases of load (up to 34 kg) produced virtually no alterations in gait pattern in male subjects. The subjects could not be considered to be representative of the population age group because it is probable that physically weak workers left before reaching age 50 years. or 100-125 cases (I 9 kg). Kinoshita (1985) showed that both light (20% of body weight) and heavy (40%) loads substantially modified the normal walking gait pattern. Some differences between the sexes are revealed during load carriage in hot climates. In general. 15 kg loads appeared to be most suitable for the subjects.

Shvartz (1975) described methods of using conductive cooling for men wearing impermeable and other protective clothing in different work situations. They concluded that the energy cost per unit weight is essentially the same whether the weight is of the body or the load. Other factors affecting load-carrying ability 1. 1981). With impermeable garments. appears to be little affected. Durnin and Passmore (1967) derived an equation for walking on level ground. The postal delivery workers studied by Ilmarinen et al (1984) exceeded 50% of VO2 max whilst carrying relatively light loads of mail upstairs at their own pace and it was recommended that such work be limited to 2 hours per day. Isometric hand grip strength decreased and lower body anaerobic power increased over the trial period for all subjects. the effect of added weights was the same when walking with and without grade on the treadmill. cold-weather clothing is increased by up to 20% over the same task wearing shorts with the weight of multi-layer clothing carried on the belt. hobbling and restrictive effects of multi-layer clothing than to the effects of the cold itself. Protective clothing A series of experiments has been conducted to study the effects of wearing protective clothing with loads in a range of temperate to hot environments (Gooderson. Some changes in physiological function during work have been found in other studies. with unloaded walking. there were no significant differences in walking speed for the 30 kg load and although the perceived exertion ratings showed a clear trend to increase. 50% and 75% of the subjects VO2 max. the amount of air movement under the garment associated with the movement of the wearer is important for the elimination of heat. and there are several equations available to predict energy cost from these variables. 1977). such as body armour. walking 2"6-9 km/h and up to 25% grade. particularly in the performance of work. Borghols et al (I 977) compared the effects of carrying weight up to 30 kg at 25%. and loads up to 70 kg. should higher levels of energy expenditure be found in cold climates. Givoni and Goldman (1971) derived an equation using body and load weights. especially sustained attention. 3. The combined effects of sustained manual work and partial sleep deprivatiorl (3 to 4 hours sleep per night over 8 days) on muscular strength and endurance was investigated by l. as well as swamp and sand. slope and a terrain factor. for load placement if not carried on the trunk . physiological function. Thus.egg and Patton (1987). Takeuchi et al (1985) examined a range of physical performance tests and found decrements after 64 hours of sleep loss only in vertical jump height and isokinetic strength. 2. Haslam (1984) has shown that the tasks worst affected are those requiring cognitive ability. Modifying coefficients were suggested for terrains other than the treadmill. Soule and Goldman (1973) looked for changes over time in subjects carrying loads of 15 or 30 kg during one hour of self-paced work in every period of 6 hours for a total 116 Applied Ergonomics June 1988 of 31 hours without sleep. They found that added loads brought about larger increases in heart rate and RPE than did unloaded walking on grades for equivalent increases in power. the increased heat production associated with heavier loads exacerbates the heat stress when wearing such clothing. The results provide a guide which allows an appropriate work rate to be selected for a particular clothing assembly m different levels of climatic stress. Martin and Chen (1982) found that after 50 hours of sleep loss. They found a decrease in upper body/elbow flexor performance which may have been associated with the continuous load bearing of 28 kg over the 5-day period. Sleep loss In a series of studies on the effects of reduced sleep on military performance. time to exhaustion by walking at 80% VO2 max was reduced by 20%. the weight of the body and the load. Orsini and Passmore (1951) examined the carriage of loads (up to 38 kg) up and down stairs and concluded that much of the energy expended is used in maintaining body posture in between steps. but in only the experimental group who handled heavy loads during tlie 8 days did the upper body anaerobic power fall. walking speed. and the usefulness of other variables such as leg length. and the gradient. Grade and stair climbing Gordon et al (1983) compared the effects of added load (up to 50% body weight) on walking subjects. stride length and frequency has also been examined. combining the snow depth effect with the effect of multi-layered coldweather clothing already mentioned. Terrain Strydom et al (1966) showed that carrying loads over sandy surfaces required an energy expenditure 80% greater than over a firm surface. Murphyet a1(1984) investigated changes in anaerobic power capacity in infantrymen who engaged in a 5-day exercise allowing 4 hours sleep per day. The effects of wearing multi-layer armoured vests (part of a total load of 25. running from 8 17 km/h up to 10% grade. It has been shown (Amor et al. and they compared the results with the control conditions of walking on a tread-mill to show how the energy cost increased with increasing severity of the terrain. the extra energy expenditure is more likely to be attributable to the weight. Goldman and Iampietro (1962) combined data from their own subjects with those from the literature to predict the energy cost of walking with loads up to 30 kg. Thus. similar results were reported by Teitlebaum and Goldman (1972). Other equations have been derived for example.for temperate ambient conditions. 2. but Myo-Thein et al (1985) showed that the increment in the energy expenditure of walking was lower for load weight (10% of body weight) than the energy expenditure per kg of body weight. Pandolf et al (1976) examined the effects of walking in various snow depths and found that the energy cost was increased by 5x with a footprint depth of 45 cm in the snow.6 kg) were investigated in hot-wet and hot-dry climates by Haisman and Goldman (1974). 1973) that the energy cost of walking in multi-layer. As might be anticipated. Workman and Armstrong (1963) and van der Walt and Wyndham (1973) predicted the energy cost of walking from body weight and speed. this only became significant with the 15 kg load. A wide range of speeds and grades was included viz. it can be seen that this is an activity which results in very high rates of energy expenditure and the production of large amounts of heat. Prediction of physiological strain involved in load carriage The energy cost of walking with loads has been found to be dependent primarily upon the speed of walking. Soule and Goldman (1972) investigated a variety of terrains including smooth and dirt roads. but this is possibly not because of reduced air temperature per se (Haisman. light and heavy brush.

Table 3 shows the effect of different terrains at a standard speed for no load . Table 2 shows the effect of increasing speed for level walking with a load of 30 kg. Other physiological parameters besides the energy expenditure of load carriage have also been estimated. Givoni and Goldman (1972) developed equations to predict the rectal temperature response to work. 1982). but the predictions were too low (5-16%) for a slower speed on grades and for level walking (14-33%). The effect of increasing load weight on march-rate when self-pacing over 6"4 km can be seen (Table 5) (Hughes and Table 4: Energy cost of walking (watts) at a given speed (1"34 m/s) for loads of 0. load weight and terrain can be examined. (70 kg man with no load) Terrain Tarmac road Dirt road Light brush Hard snow Heavy Swampy Loose brush bog sand Soft snow Soft snow (15 cm) (25 cm) Energy cost (watts) 374 401 428 454 and for very heavy levels of work.25 1. including investigation of the duration and frequency of rest periods and the comparison of alternative work methods. it is not useable for negative grades.81 Metabolic rate(watts) 213 245 283 327 376 431 493 560 633 Table 3: Energy cost of walking (watts) at a given speed (1. Based on partitioning the jobs into component parts.11 1. Load carriage and performance An important consideration is how the load carried effects the performance of a task. Using this equation (Pandolf et al. Lotens (1982) took the view that performance decrement due to carried load is dependent on weight and that the method of suspension (within limits) is of minor importance. environment and clothing. including the Givoni and Goldman (1971) method. In a previous section the effect of terrain was discussed.67 1.97 1. grade. Duggan and Ramsay (1987) found good agreement between the predicted values and observed energy expenditures of walking at 1 "67 m/s on a level treadmill with and without a 21 kg load.for example. The metabolic heat production is a major contributor to the problem of maintaining acceptable levels of deep body temperature and heart rate. 1973). the relationships between energy expenditure. 1979) and was found to predict slightly high. and low for slow speed walking. in general. particularly if evaporative skin cooling is limited by protective clothing in high ambient humidity. Bensel and Lockhart (1975) found that load carriage equipment degraded body flexibility compared with a control condition. 1977). Predictions of rectal temperature have been used to estimate heart rate (Givoni and Goldman.for standing with loads. 1977) (70 kg man) Grade (%) 0 4 8 12 16 Load 0 294 425 556 687 819 20 362 531 700 868 1037 40 473 679 886 1092 (kg) * * outside the physiological range for young. 1977). all four methods were inappropriate for an intermittent load carriage task and a revised model was proposed. Marshall (1950) described similar problems with American troops. Renbourn (1954b)noted the extreme example of the British infantry at Cambrai in 1917 who were so exhausted by their great loads that they were unable to take advantage of the first mass attack by tanks. Randle (1987) compared four methods of predicting the metabolic cost of load carrying in the arms.Table 2: Metabolic rate (watts) as a function of march rate on a level tarmac road (for 70 kg man carrying 30 kg load including clothing) March rate (m/s) 0"69 0. Soule and Goldman (I 972) investigated terrain coefficients. 508 589 669 785 1005 Prediction of physiological cost of industrial load carriage tasks The prediction models described in the previous sections were. Garg et al (1978) adopted an approach for estimating metabolic rates for manual materials handling jobs. This method of body temperature prediction has been compared with three other models (Haslam and Parsons.6 m/s) for various level terrains (Pandolf etal. 20 and 40 kg at various grades (Pandolf et al. For example. march rate. the system has many applications. designed for steady load carriage. healthy men Applied Ergonomics June 1988 117 . Most recently. the effect of increasing grade and load is shown in Table 4. Similarly. The equation of Pandolf et al (1977) has been compared with observed data (Pimental and Pandolf.83 0. walking on loose sand is almost 80% more costly than walking on a tarmac road.39 1"53 1. the predictions were on average 3% too high. and Pandolf et al (1977) modified the equation to include walking speeds down to standing still. Pimental et al (1982) showed that the equation was accurate for grades up to 10% at a speed of 1-12 m/s. In the industrial setting it has been shown that most loads are carried intermittently (Drury et al. The mean standard error of estimate over all conditions was 29 kcal/h. Epstein et al (1987) developed an equation for predicting the metabolic cost of running with and without back-pack loads. 1986).

K. Goldman for his suggestions on the original manuscripts. O.E.79 0'79 0. circumstances. 1956. There is. 1964. Conclusion Bink. Robertson. In the Hughes and Goldman (t970) self-pacing study quoted above.M. (3) maintenance of a normal and free gait. C. The literature confirms that there is no easy solution in the definition of a maximal load. Proceedings of 2nd International Ergonomics Congress. Ergonomics.A. and Vogel. Aerobic work capacity in men and women with special reference to age. grade. References Amor. 29(12). R. 10(3). Natick Tech Report 75-92-CEMEL. and Tesch. energy cost and speed when self-pacing over 6"4 km. 82-85. climate. Goss. Ergonomics. (1954c) considered that the load carried by the soldier will probably always be a compromise between what is physiologically sound and what is operationally essential.6 4 years old. or in terms of relative work load equivalent to one-third of the VO2 max for a working day. but for healthy young males there appears t~ be some consensus for the traditional rule of thumb .2 4'3 3. Dotan.7 Energy cost kcal/h 587 469 457 448 395 386 Energy cost per unit distance kcal/kg/m 1"04 0'83 0. Physiol Rev. Army Personnel Research Establishment Report 5/74.293 303. 1973. B. Energy cost of manpacking the Swingfire missile. The effects of body armour and load carrying equipment on psychomotor performance... 1979). Acta Physiol Scan& 49.. Vogel. 1982)..C. These essentials still hold today in the design of military or civilian equipment and should be considered in the definition of optimal load. 1970. the load or load + body mass). Metabolic and perceptual responses while carrying external loads on the head and by yoke. and Metz.A.307-335. Cox. Bensel. Anaerobic capacity and muscle fibre type distribution in man. likely to be an effect on performance due to the weight carried. Renb~mr. I. Astrand. 1974. 1.A.84 0. The physical work capacity of workers 5 0 . 1980. Karlsson. clothing and nature of the terrain. Bar-Or. I. Edwards. Load carriage in industrial and other civilian areas will also involve a similar compromise between the person's capabilities and requirements of the task which may in some circumstances have important implications for health and safety. (2) maintenance of normal posture. the heavier load was found to produce an extra strain on the cardiopulmonary system and was perceived by all subjects as harder work. Acta Physiol Scan& 42.L. Dortmund. Balogun. R. Int J Sports Med. Total energy expenditure of the task integrates some of these factors and there is some evidence that fit male subjects will self-pace at an energy expenditure of 425 kcal/h (494 watts) -+ 10% (Hughes and Goldman. and Worsley. Legg (1985) examined six separate load carriage studies and considered that there was seldom a single 'best' way to carry a load. because of widely varying Table 5: Weight of load. Additional studies on physical working capacity in relation to working time and age. J. Other investigators such as Myles et al (1979) preferred to use relative workload when they found that fit young soldiers self-paced at 3 0 40% of VO2 max over a 6-day period. J. D. 1 92. A. 1960. Astrand. the speed decreases proportionately. 1623-1635. P. I. When the back-pack load only was taken into account. 73-86.F. 1967.F.J.. Pierrynowski et al (1981 b) considered the minimum energy cost per unit of mass carried and distance covered. and the average energy cost per unit distance marched was found to be lowest for 30 40 kg of load. Compiled from Hughes and Goldman (1970) with permission from the author and the J of Appl Physiol Weight of load (kg) 118 0 20 30 40 50 60 Speed km/h (approx) 8"0 6'5 5-8 5. A. J.O. Tech Memo 18/73.. but they argued that the critical point concerned definition of the load (i e.. A. J. 1958. Levine et al. therefore. J. R. Optimal load The optimal load is an elusive concept. Various aspects of load carriage have been reviewed. O. In 1950. The energy cost of wearing multi layer clothing. 1970). M. When the effects of carrying light and heavy loads (10 and 40% of body weight) at the same energy expenditure level were compared (Myles and Saunders. Lippold and Naylor set out four essentials in the design of any load carriage equipment to ensure a minimum expenditure of energy: (1) elimination of local strain.. and (4) chest freedom... suppl 169. or 24 kg oll an assumed mean bod~ weight of 72 kg.F. Army Personnel Research Establishment. Inbar. Amor. Astrand. 1986.~t"onethird body weight. and Lockhart. Human physical fitness with special reference to sex and age. 1975.K.84 Applied Ergonomics June 1988 . Rothstein. 83-86. Astrand. F.Goldman..A. they recommended 40 kg as an optimal load decreasing to 7 kg when the defined load included the entire body mass. 36.. P. but in absolute terms the mean energy expenditure of 384 kcal/h was just within the 10% limits of 425 kcal/h.F. irrespective of an effect linked to total energy expenditure. Ergonomics. the lowest energy expended per kilogram-metre is for a rather high load in the range 44-59% of nude body weight.. It may well be impossible to define an optimal load in isolation from other relevant factors such as the velocity. Acknowledgements It is a pleasure to thank colleagues at APRE and elsewhere who have advised during the evolution of this paper and to Dr R.. As the toad weight increases. Degree of strain during building work as related to individual aerobic work capacity.

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