Designing the Instruction of the Niosh Lower Back Model

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Designing the Instruction of the NIOSH Lower Back Model
Alaina Ostroff
Hofstra University


This project was designed as an instruction teaching capsule for the NIOSH Lifting Equation which models forces in the lower back. This is a technical topic and was designed to teach a broad group of people, such as engineering students, as a tool to instruct the NIOSH back model. There are five elements that make up the “NIOSH Lower Back Model” which include: a narrated PowerPoint presentation, multiplier tables/job analysis worksheet/excel calculator program, didactic handouts to aid in teaching, homework exercises, and a quiz. Lower back injuries are the most common injuries occurring in the workplace. However, they can often be prevented if proper training is implemented. The NIOSH lifting equation is an equation that was made specifically for this reason. Even though this equation was designed for workplace training environments, injuries still happen. This can often be attributed to a lack of proper teaching techniques of which involve biomechanical, psychophysical, and physiological effects. Injuries usually occur at the L5/S1 vertebrae in the lower spine. This is mainly due to lifting too much weight and/or lifting too quickly. In addition, every year over 2.5 million low back injuries and 1.2 million disabling low back injuries occur in the Unites States. Lower back pain was the diagnosis of 10 percent of all chronic health conditions [3, 4]. An average of 28.6 workdays was lost per 100 workers with low back pain [3, 4]. The overall cost for low back pain has been estimated to be between $4.6 and $11 billion dollars per year [4]. This cost represents a tremendous loss in productivity, as measured in dollar output per worker, and extremely high levels of human suffering. For this reason, The NIOSH Lifting equation is important for engineers to learn because they design systems on it to prevent injury in the workplace. Anything that can be done to minimize the risk factors and reduce the associated incidence of injury will greatly reduce human suffering and costs to industry. Methods

The goal of this design project was to implement a program by designing a teaching curriculum for the NIOSH Lifting Equation to be taught to engineers. The “NIOSH Lower Back Model” is a curriculum that consists of five elements – a narrated slide PowerPoint presentation, multiplier tables with job lifting analysis worksheet and excel calculator program to help the students assess workers needs to decide which lifting approach is appropriate for a specific worker handling activity, didactic handouts, homework activities, and quiz to help the students evaluate their knowledge of the NIOSH lifting concepts. The first element used to teach the “NIOSH Lower Back Model” is a narrated PowerPoint presentation. The information taught here is as follows: The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) Lifting Equation – NLE – was originally designed in 1981 and revised in 1991 to evaluate the risk of lifting tasks with respect to lower back injury, specifically at the L5/S1 vertebrae. Three lifting limits criteria were used when designing the NLE which includes: biomechanical criteria – L5/S1 vertebrae is the site of the greatest stress, physiological criteria – energy expenditure related to repetitive lifting, and psychophysical criteria – how much an individual will choose to lift if given the choice when lifting for an extended period of time. Figure 1 displays these lifting limits criteria in manual handling and where they coincide. Figure 2 displays the biomechanics involved in a spinal motion failure due to heavy lifting. Figure 1:

Lifting Limits in Manual Handling

Figure 1:
Lifting Limits in Manual Handling

Figure 2:
Spinal Motion Segment Failure

Figure 2:
Spinal Motion Segment...
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