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Energy Expenditure Ranges and Muscular Work Grades
  1. J. R. Brown*,
  2. G. P. Crowden
  1. Department of Applied Physiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


    This paper is based on the findings of a field study which was planned to ascertain by metabolic measurement the rates of energy expenditure of men and women on productive effort at work in modern factories.

    The investigation which is described was carried out during a period of peace-time full employment, mainly in factories associated with the Slough Industrial Health Service in which a nutritional survey of the calorie intake of male operatives had been made by the Ministry of Health and the Medical Research Council in 1952.

    The rates of energy expenditure of 70 men and 54 women in 27 occupational groups were measured by indirect calorimetric methods. On the basis of the criteria for the classification of work according grades to its heaviness, adopted by the Factory Department of the Ministry of Labour, muscular work grades have been ascribed to the occupations studied.

    From the distribution of 390 metabolic measurements, ranges of energy expenditure have been computed for occupations classed as sedentary, light, moderate, heavy, or very heavy, Observation of recurrent phase variations in types of productive effort in the work-cycle indicated that wider work grades, such as light-to-moderate or moderate-to-heavy, are needed to cover the energy expenditure rates of men and women in many occupations.

    The data obtained in this study have enabled a table termed the “Slough Scales” to be compiled giving ranges of energy expenditure and pulmonary ventilation rates for the various work grades ascribed to occupations.

    The mean rates of energy expenditure of 257 workers (in industries in different parts of England and Scotland) which have been calculated from data published by other investigators have been found to fall within the ranges specified in these scales for the work grades of their occupations. It is felt, therefore, that the Slough Scales represent a reasonably true appraisal of the relation between the Ministry of Labour occupational work grades and the rates of energy expenditure of men and women at work under environmental and management conditions which usually appertain in the United Kingdom.

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    • * Present address: Department of Physiological Hygiene, School of Hygiene, University of Toronto.