Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation May generate spine loads exceeding recommended limits

The 1991 NIOSH Lifting Equation (NLE) is widely used to assess the risk of injury to spine by providing estimates of the recommended weight limit (RWL) in hands. The present study uses the predictive equations developed based on a detailed trunk musculoskeletal biomechanical model to verify whether the RWL generates L5-S1 loads within the limits (e.g., 3400 N for compression recommended by NIOSH and 1000 N for shear recommended in some studies). Fifty lifting activities are simulated here to evaluate the RWL by the NLE and the L5-S1 loads by the predictive equations. In lifting activities involving moderate to large forward trunk flexion, the estimated RWL generates L5-S1 spine loads exceeding the recommended limits. The NIOSH vertical multiplier is the likely cause of this inadequacy; a revised multiplier accounting for the trunk flexion angle is hence needed. The use of a fixed 3400 N compression limit is also questioned.

Source: Navid Arjmand, Mohammad Amini, Aboulfazl Shirazi-Adl, André Plamondon, Mohammad Parnianpour. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 47, May 2015, p. 1-8.

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