Individual, task, and environmental influences on balance recovery: a narrative review of the literature and implications for preventing occupational falls

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Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology


Balance recovery is a complex, multi-factorial task. When examining occupational environments for fall safety hazards, practitioners must be aware of how a worker’s ability to recover from balance loss and avoid a fall depends on their unique individual characteristics, the task they are performing, and their work environment. Balance recovery can be negatively affected by factors related to the individual (e.g., aging, obesity, arthritis, low back pain, fatigue, and peripheral neuropathies); the task (e.g., holding objects or performing multiple tasks); and the environment (e.g., slopes or stairs). Conversely, balance recovery can be enhanced by exposure to balance disturbances in the context of perturbation training, and by environmental design (e.g., appropriately-designed handrails). By understanding how individual, task, and environmental factors influence balance recovery and overall fall risk, occupational health and safety practitioners will be in a stronger position to design and implement safety controls to prevent occupational slips, trips, and falls.

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© 2019 Taylor & Francis. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

IISE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors