Physiology-based Dynamic Fatigue Modeling for Construction Tasks: A Feasibility Study for Intensive Upper Limb Work

Research Trainee: Houtan Jebelli, Ph.D. Candidate, Tishman Construction Management Program,
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

Principal Investigator: SangHyun Lee, Associate Professor, Tishman Construction Management Program,
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan

Houtan Jebelli

Houtan Jebelli


SangHyun Lee

Professor SangHyun Lee

Nearly 40% of the U.S. workforce experiences serious fatigue that may result in devastatingimpacts aforementioned. In particular, it can cause more devastating impacts on construction dueto its involvement of heavy workloads, awkward working postures, or prolonged working hours. Despite the potential value of evaluating muscle fatigue prior to work, the models and toolsavailable to do so are limited especially for construction tasks that have time-varying forceexertions and irregular pauses and short breaks. To address this issue, we proposed to computationally model and empirically validated physiological mechanisms of dynamic musclefatigue generation and recovery for construction workers through the laboratory testing. This project goal was to computationally model construction workers’ upper limbs muscles fatigue in an unprecedented way and to test the feasibility of the model for further research and practice.

The specific aims include:
Aim #1: Develop the dynamic muscle fatigue model for upper limbs to incorporate varying physical demands

  • The fatigue response of upper limbs (i.e. shoulder and elbow) was modeled based on relationships specified in the literature between the accumulation and clearance of intramuscular metabolites during physical exertion and the effects of the metabolites onmuscle contractile processes.

  • PPRT Lee

    Aim #2: Validate and refine the developed models to prove the feasibility of assessing muscle fatigue

  • The performance of the developed model was extensively validated and refined bycomparing the output from our model with laboratory experimental data from 30 construction workers (15 workers for each muscle group) who heavily use their upper limbs.
  • As a result, this research demonstrated a great potential to evaluate workers’ muscle fatigue underheavy and irregular workloads prior to work. This project opens new doors toward risk reduction associated with muscle fatigue; it helps managers to adjust work design by providing appropriate rest breaks or reducing workloads to enhance workers’ safety and health.

    Project Abstract