Manual Lifting: A Guide to the Study of Simple and Complex Lifting Tasks

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Protective equipment might be another thing that becomes necessary as you consider a task - would it help to wear gloves or a harness? Similarly, would a step ladder help when lifting something from above?

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Often, training is the responsibility of the designated health and safety officer, and in many businesses is contracted out. Click here to find out more. The latest training news brought to you by Virtual College. We create innovative digital learning experiences that inspire people to develop the skills they need to thrive in their careers; enhancing and enriching the organisations they work in.

For 24 years, we have been developing and supplying collaborative, customer-focused e-learning technology for organisations world-wide. Pushing and pulling actions should be performed at between shoulder height and elbow height or a little below. Get the right posture by making sure your feet are shoulder-width apart, keeping your back straight, tightening your abdominal muscles, bending your knees, squatting down to the floor and looking straight ahead.

It may also help to put one knee on the floor and your other knee in front of you bent at a right angle. When you lift an item, prevent injury by adopting the correct posture.

Hold the item close to your body and bend at the knees to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your back. Position your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight and your core strong. Bend your knees and squatting down keeping your gaze straight ahead. For pushing, you need to keep your back straight and bend your knees without twisting at your hips to push, but rather keep your core tight and use your legs and body weight to move the object.

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Always face the object you are pulling and take small, backward steps once you start to move. This online Manual Handling training course provides learners with the knowledge they need in order to reduce the chance of incurring an injury whilst manually handling loads in their work environment.

Staff safety is extremely important. This training pack offers practical advice for workers who are off-site or unsupervised. It ensures you fulfil your legal requirements for mandatory health and safety training. What is manual handling? Knowing how to move patients safely and without risk of injury is one of the most important skills needed in an NHS or other care environment. In other industries, workers often need to lift and move heavy objects that could put their bodies under strain. We are in the process of moving to one Virtual College website. If you want to go back to a course, or start a course, bought from our old website then you may need to login to our original learning management system.

Otherwise, please proceed to our new learning management system to return to your training. Need Help? The range of lifted weights is divided into five WTCs with equal intervals. Each of the individual lifts is then aggregated into those five categories, and the overall number of lifts in each category is determined. Finally, an average weight is computed for each WTC that will be used in subsequent computations. Another simplification will likely be needed to account for variability in task geometry among a large number of lifts.

The approach outlined by Colombini et al. Vertical location height of hands at lifting origin or destination : This variable is reduced to two areas:. Ideal area good : Hands are between 51 and cm vertical height; the VM is equal to 1. Nonideal areas low or high : Hands are equal or below 50 cm or above cm up to cm vertical height; the VM is equal to 0. Horizontal location maximum hand grasp point away from the body during lifting : The horizontal distances were simplified into three areas—near, mid, and far.

The three distances are defined as follows:. Near—Horizontal distance is within 25—40 cm; the representative HM is equal to 0. Mid—Horizontal distance is within 41—50 cm; the representative HM is equal to 0. Far—Horizontal distance is within 51—63 cm; the representative HM is equal to 0.

Asymmetry angular displacement of loads off to the side of the body : Asymmetry is considered collectively for each WTC. An AM of 0. Otherwise the AM is set equal to 1. Vertical travel distance vertical distance between the height of hands at origin and at destination : The contribution of this factor has been considered as noninfluent. The CM has thus been taken as a constant, equal to 1.


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It should be underlined that even if the vertical DM is set as a constant, the height of the hands at both the origin and destination of the lift should always be measured and considered. Coupling quality or type of grip : The contribution of this factor has also been defined as constant. By adopting the simplifications and procedures proposed by Colombini et al. This approach is demonstrated in the example that follows. In a metal-working plant, workers load and unload plastic containers of in-process materials to and from assembly lines for processing. The task is organized in cycles; during each cycle, the worker handles various containers in different body postures due to different heights of the hands at the origin and destination and different horizontal distances.

The shift lasts min from 8 a. The work starts at 8 a. In the afternoon, the activity is the same as in the morning with a 10 min break at 3.

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Hence the total manual handling duration during the shift is net minutes. Table 5 shows the sequence of lifting task, breaks, and light work during the shift. The containers have three different weights 6, 8, and 13 kg ; the respective number of pieces lifted during the shift is shown in Table 6. Because 1, containers are lifted during a min period, the overall lifting frequency is 4.

The partial lifting frequencies for each type weight of container are as follows: 1. The lifting activities are performed at different heights of the hands at the origin and destination and different horizontal distances; there is minimal lift asymmetry for all lifts i. A significant control is present for quite all lifting actions. In this scenario, it is not possible to use the traditional multitask lifting index CLI approach, as there would be up to 50 different individual FILI values or about if one considers both origin and destination.

Also, the mean frequency of each type of lift would be very low about 0. Because the traditional CLI approach cannot work, the proposed VLI approach, using weight and geometry simplifications, should be used to assess the task. Because different horizontal distances per WTCs are clearly identified both at origin than at destination, it results in a total of 14 individual subtasks, as shown in Table 8.

However, it is preferable to adopt the more detailed procedure to obtain more accurate estimates of the partial frequencies of individual combinations. Using this procedure, we have that four of nine lifts For the bad vertical height category, the lifts will be equally distributed with regard to horizontal reach i. For the combinations of good-near, good-mid, and good-far, the prevalence with respect to all the 6 kg lifts of lifts result, respectively, in For the other WTCs, a similar approach has been used to determine individual tasks partial frequencies.

The resulting frequencies of lifts for the various combinations 14 in the present example of vertical height and horizontal reaches are reported in Table 8. Because 14 subtasks are still too many to use directly the CLI formula, it is advisable to use the VLI concept and approach. Those six categories are determined according to the distribution of the individual FILI values in this case 14 values using preferentially the sextile distributions as key points for grouping or in other terms the values corresponding to the As a simpler alternative, one may obtain six key points by dividing the range of FILI values i.

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Using these data, organized in six FILI categories, it will be possible to compute the VLI by means of the traditional CLI formula in the same way previously reported for the task sampling approach. Using data reported in Table 11 , the VLI for this job can be calculated, as follows:. The CLI was based on the assumption that the physical stress for a multitask manual lifting job with multiple lifting tasks would be greater than the physical stress for the task element with the greatest single STLI and that the overall physical stress would increase as additional tasks were added to the job.

The frequency adjustments were added into the formula during the final summation of the physical stress measure to account for the physiological demand of the job that would result from the frequency and duration of the overall job. The exact cut-off or threshold values used with the categorization strategy remains problematic with the RNLE.

Validation studies should help to clarify and refine it. The FILI measure for each task in a multitask job was designed to provide some idea about what the biomechanical risk for the task would be independent of the other tasks being performed or their frequencies. In this way, the user would be able to identify those job tasks that would be best addressed by adjusting the job characteristics to maximize the reduction in biomechanical stress.


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The VLI procedure is based on a similar principle. The difference is that a specific set of job categories are created to allow inclusion of all the lifts in order to emulate the individual tasks in the CLI procedure. Rather than use specific values for the FILI, each job category is composed of a range of FILI values that correspond to a level of biomechanical stress. From this perspective, individual lifts with high physical demands cannot be identified, but categories containing tasks with the highest physical demands would likely be identified from the VLI analysis.

In this way, two distinct jobs with variable task characteristics can be compared and the categories with the highest physical demand can be identified and adjusted by reducing exposure to those tasks comprising the category with the highest physical demand as determined from the VLI analysis. The question may arise as to the handling of tasks where the measured task parameters are outside of the allowable range e.

Key points

As a second option, the analyst may choose to use the maximum multiplier for the parameter e. In these types of cases, the analyst may also consider supplementing the RNLE analysis with other analysis methods.

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The VLI can also provide an overall assessment of the physical demands for manual lifting jobs performed in environments where traditionally it has been difficult to assess. As with the previous SLI method Waters et al. A variable lifting task is often observed in industry, warehousing, baggage handling, construction, and several service jobs, but a procedure for analyzing variable lifting tasks has not been previously defined by NIOSH.

The procedure is aimed at compressing a potential high number of individual lifting indexes to a restricted number to better apply the CLI formula. Free downloadable software are available at www. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NIOSH. He was a certified professional ergonomist and holds advanced degrees in engineering science and biomechanics from the University of Cincinnati.

As a researcher at NIOSH for the past 20 years, he has published more than 40 papers and chapters on manual materials handling and prevention of lower back disorders.