Author(s): Granata KP, Marras WS, Davis KG
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: To quantify the variability in lifting motions, trunk moments, and spinal loads associated with repeated lifting exertions and to identify workplace factors that influence the biomechanical variability. DESIGN: Measurement of trunk dynamics, moments and muscle activities were used as inputs into EMG assisted model of spinal loading. BACKGROUND: Traditional biomechanical models assume repeated performance of a lifting task produces little variability in spinal load because the assessments overlook variability in lifting dynamics and muscle coactivity. METHODS: Five experienced and seven inexperienced manual materials handlers performed 10 repeated lifts at each combination of load weight, task asymmetry and lifting velocity. RESULTS: Box weight, task asymmetry and job experience influenced the magnitude and variability of spinal load during repeated lifting exertions. Surprisingly, experienced subjects demonstrated significantly greater spinal loads and within-subject variability in spinal load than inexperienced subjects. Trial-to-trial variability accounted for 14\% of the total variation in compression overall and 32\% in lateral shear load. Although the mean spinal load was safely below the NIOSH recommended limit; due to variability about the mean, more than 20\% of the lifts exceeded the recommended limit. CONCLUSION: Spinal load changed markedly from one exertion to the next despite identical task requirements. Trial-to-trial variability in kinematics, kinetics, and spinal load were influenced by workplace factors, and may play a role in the risk of low-back pain. RELEVANCE: Ergonomic assessments considering only the mean value of spinal load overlook the fact that a large fraction of the lifts may exceed recommended levels.
This article was published in Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon)
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Biomechanics