Development of a database of strain upon the body under exposure to acute mechanical exposure

Project No. IFA 5111


completed 12/2011


During the design or standardization of machinery, the question repeatedly arises as to what acceptable limit values should be observed for acute mechanical strain arising in persons in the event of exposure to mechanical stress such as shock or clamping by moving parts of machinery. Suitable limit values for the event of collision with collaborative robots are currently under discussion. A database of strain data for light injuries, obtained from accident research or forensic pathology, would be highly beneficial for evaluation of the severity of strain suffered by the body in the event of exposure to acute mechanical stress. These data typically constitute values for the severity of injury, the level of harm, and the mechanical influences and underlying conditions giving rise to them (such as force, pressure and acceleration values). This project therefore had the purpose of defining a suitable database structure and of developing the user interface required for data input, queries and interpretations. The data were to be recorded for all regions of the human body. The database is to enable a large number of data sources already surveyed at the IFA to be systematically accessed and evaluated at some point in the future. The result of a future query of the database could for example take the form of a table showing the fracture forces of fingers obtained from several data sources. The results of research activity involving the database are for example to be exploited during standardization work in order to determine stress parameters and limit values at the human-machine interface.


The scope and the required functions of the database were first specified. The data will be obtained in the future by literature surveys and dedicated research activity. Typical sources of data are studies of passive safety in automotive research, orthopaedics, and studies of mechanical trauma. Further data are provided by research projects into pain thresholds or pain tolerance values or concerning general medical and biomechanical topics. The database structure was defined and the user interface developed accordingly. The database will deliver summaries of strain data, which may be interpreted further, in response to specific search algorithms, from one or more sources of data and in multiple forms of output. Finally, the routines required for installation and personal access rights were developed.


In this project, a database was developed for the input and interpretation of human strain data under acute exposure to mechanical stress. Examples include data records concerning fracture forces of finger elements, crushing of the torso, and pain thresholds at various body points. The database makes use of specified structured master data which can be extended as desired during input. Conversion of the original input data into a standard format permits comprehensive comparisons across data records. In addition, specific documents such as PDF files relating to publication or further analysis documents relating to the data record can be archived. In the course of this project, the basic structure of the database was developed, including the functions for data input, generation of reports of data records, and the generation of complex evaluative lists. Data records can be printed out and can be saved individually. Specific search results can also be exported. The database is implemented in static form on the IFA web server. In future, it will be available for use on the Internet with the "data input" and "data interpretation" functions. The database will initially be made available to a small and defined group of users. Persons associated with the accident insurance institutions will be granted access as needed. In principle, this extends to external users who are working jointly with the IFA on specific subjects, for example on behalf of universities. The database is to be populated with data from 2015 onwards.

Last Update:



Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Berufsgenossenschaft Holz und Metall (BGHM)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

design of work and technology


workplace design, mechanical hazards, risk assessment

Description, key words:

physical strain, mechanical exposure, risk assessment, hazard analysis, collaborative robots, human-machine interface, collision, entrapment, body region, body part, injury, severity of injury, resistance of the body to strain, limit value