The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of lifting height and mass lifted on the peak low back load in terms of net moments, compression forces and anterior-posterior shear forces. Ten participants had to lift a box using four handle heights.
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Low back loading was quantified using a dynamic 3-D linked segment model and a detailed electromyographic driven model of the trunk musculature. The effects of lifting height and lifting mass were quantified using a regression technique (GEE) for correlated data. Results indicate that an increase in lifting height and a decrease in lifting mass were related to a decrease in low back load. It is argued that trunk flexion is a major contributor to low back load.
For ergonomic interventions it can be advised to prioritise optimisation of the vertical location of the load to be lifted rather than decreasing the mass of the load for handle heights between 32 cm and 155 cm, and for load masses between 7.5 and 15 kg. Lifting height and load mass are important determinants of low back load during manual materials handling.
This paper provides the quantitative effect of lifting height and mass lifted, the results of which can be used by ergonomists at the workplace to evaluate interventions regarding lifting height and load mass.