Can the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation Be Improved by Incorporating Personal Characteristics?

  • Menekse Salar Barim
  • Richard F. Sesek
  • M. Fehmi Capanoglu
  • Sean Gallagher
  • Mark C. SchallJr.
  • Gerard A. Davis
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 820)


The impact of manual material handling such as lifting, lowering, pushing and pulling have been extensively studied. Many models using these external demands to predict injury have been proposed and employed by safety and health professionals. However, ergonomic models incorporating personal characteristics into a comprehensive model are lacking. This study explores the utility of adding personal characteristics such as the estimated L5/S1 Intervertebral Disc (IVD) cross sectional area, height, age, gender and Body Mass Index (BMI) to the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation (RNLE) with the goal to improve injury prediction. A dataset with known RNLE Cumulative Lifting Indices (CLIs) and related health outcomes was used to evaluate the impact of personal characteristics on RNLE performance. The dataset included 29 cases and 101 controls selected from a cohort of 1,022 subjects performing 667 jobs. RNLE performance was significantly improved by incorporation of personal characteristics. Adding gender and intervertebral disc size multipliers to the RNLE raised the odds ratio for a CLI of 3.0 from 6.71 (CI: 2.2–20.9, PPV: 0.60, NPV: 0.82) to 24.75 (CI: 2.8–215.4, PPV: 0.86, NPV: 0.80). The most promising RNLE change involved incorporation of the multiplier based on the estimated IVD cross-sectional area (CSA). This multiplier was developed by normalizing against the IVD CSA for a 50th percentile woman. This multiplier could assume values greater than one (for subjects with larger IVD CSA than a 50th percentile woman). Thus, CLI could both decrease and increase as a result of this multiplier. Increases in RNLE performance were achieved primarily by decreasing the number of RNLE false positives (e.g., some CLIs for uninjured subjects were reduced below 3.0). Results are promising, but confidence intervals are broad and additional, prospective research is warranted to validate findings.


Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation (RNLE) Personal characteristics BMI Age Gender Low back pain Intervertebral disc cross sectional area L5/S1 



This publication was partially supported by Grant # 2T420H008436 from NIOSH. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not constitute endorsement by the Public Health Service or by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Menekse Salar Barim
    • 1
  • Richard F. Sesek
    • 2
  • M. Fehmi Capanoglu
    • 2
  • Sean Gallagher
    • 2
  • Mark C. SchallJr.
    • 2
  • Gerard A. Davis
    • 2
  1. 1.Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Research FellowCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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