Effectiveness of a vacuum lifting system in reducing spinal load during airline baggage handling

Information on spinal loading for using lift assist systems for airport baggage handling is lacking. We conducted a laboratory study to evaluate a vacuum lift system for reducing lumbar spinal loads during baggage loading/unloading tasks. Ten subjects performed the tasks using the industry average baggage weight of 14.5?kg on a typical two-shelved baggage cart with or without using the lift system (i.e. lifting technique). Repeated measures analysis of variance (2 tasks × 2 shelf heights x 2 techniques) was used. Spinal loads were estimated by an electromyography-driven biomechanical model. On average, the vacuum lift system reduced spinal compressive forces on the lumbar spine by 39% and below the 3400?N damage threshold. The system also resulted in a 25% reduction in the anterior-posterior shear force at the L5/S1 inferior endplate level. This study provides evidence for the potential to reduce spinal loads when using a vacuum lift system.

Source: Lu, M. L., Dufour, J. S., Weston, E. B. et Marras, W. S. (2018). Applied Ergonomics, 70, 247-252.

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