From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics Tools: Dynamometers and Goniometers

What are these tools, what do they measure, and why they might be appropriate in your ergonomics tool box.

dynamometer \Dy`na*mom”e*ter\, n. [Cf. F. dynamom]
An apparatus for measuring force or power (think of the term dyne from engineering or math class); especially, muscular effort of men or animals, or the power developed by a motor, or that required to operate machinery.

This device usually embodies a spring to be compressed or weight to be sustained by the force applied, combined with an index, or automatic recorder, to show the work performed.

These instruments are commonly used in physical therapy, rehabilitation, and engine manufacturing.
In ergonomics, a dynamometer is a device that is used to measure forces involved in tasks such as pushing or pulling.

Dynamometers can be used to measure small forces (1-3 lbs) like those displayed in pinching motions, while another would be used to measure upwards of 100lbs. Units are converted from force units. In addition to documenting a force, certain musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are associated with a reduction in grip strength which can be measured with this device.

Dynamometers can have a dial type display or can be digital. Digital models may also provide such data management features as input memory/recall, and the ability to download data to a PC.

Other features of dynamometers to consider may be a peak-hold needle on a dial display, adjustable grip handle, and dual-scale readout.

As sensitive and calibrated equipment goes, dynamometers, even the dial display type, can cost a couple hundred dollars. The good thing about many of these is they come with manufacture warranties that can keep you with a calibrated and working piece of equipment for many years. The digital models are more expensive due to the technology and data management features.