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NLE Calc: A Mobile Application Based on the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation

Posted on by Emily Warner, MA, Stephen D. Hudock, PhD, CSP, and Jack Lu, PhD, CPE

Knowing how much weight an individual worker can safely lift is a key component to preventing back injury in the workplace. NIOSH recently released a free mobile lifting application, NLE Calc, which helps users determine safe lifting limits. The new NIOSH app takes information from the internationally renowned “Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation” out of the laboratory and into the hands of workers and employers.

 

What is NLE Calc?

The NIOSH Lifting Equation Calculator app (NLE Calc) allows users to quickly calculate manual lifting risks as they occur on the job. NLE Calc even uses the composite lifting index (CLI)—often ignored by commercially available apps—to calculate manual lifting risks for multiple and complex lifting tasks. Workers, employers, and occupational health professionals can easily download NLE Calc from Apple iTunes or Google Play, type the indicated measurements into the equation, and use the results to help identify ergonomic solutions for reducing the physical stresses associated with manual lifting.

 

What are the key benefits of using NLE Calc?

  • Calculates the composite lifting index (CLI) for multiple lifting tasks (often ignored by most commercial apps)
  • Uses equations approved by NIOSH ergonomists, who created the NIOSH Lifting Equation (NLE)
  • Promotes better musculoskeletal health
  • Raises workers’ awareness about their job tasks
  • Helps workers and employers make informed decisions about potential musculoskeletal hazards
  • Serves as job design guidelines for manual lifting tasks
  • Can be used as a research tool to collect manual lifting data

 

 

NIOSH recommends that single or multiple lifting tasks have a (composite) lifting index lower than 1.0.

With the app’s release, NIOSH added a page on our website specifically dedicated to NLE Calc. This webpage offers more information on how to use the app and how to interpret the results.

The cost of musculoskeletal disorders is a serious health concern. Around the world, musculoskeletal disorders are responsible for roughly 21% of the years people live with disabilities.1 In 2010, low back pain and neck pain were among the top five leading causes of disability worldwide. 1 In the United States and Canada, more people are unable to work because of musculoskeletal disorders than because of any other group of diseases.2

For over 20 years, the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation has been the international standard for assessing risks associated with lifting tasks, preventing the onset of lower back pain, and reducing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. As you use the app, please tell us about your experience in the comment section below. We would also appreciate your help in getting the word out about the app.

 

Emily Warner, MA , is an ORISE Fellow in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

Stephen D. Hudock, PhD, CSP, is Manager of the NIOSH Musculoskeletal Health Cross-Sector.

Jack Lu, PhD, CPE, is a Research Ergonomist in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

References

1 Hoy DG, Smith E, Cross M, Sanchez-Riera L, Blyth FM, Buchbinder R, Woolf AD, Driscoll T, Brooks P, March LM. [2015] Reflecting on the global burden of musculoskeletal conditions: lessons learnt from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study and the next steps forward. Ann Rheun Di; 74:4-7.

2 Punnett L, Pruss-Ustun A, Nelson DI, Fingerhut MA, Leigh J, Tak S, Phillips S. [2005]. Estimating the Global Burden of Low Back Pain Attributable to Combined Occupational Exposures. AJIM; 48: 459-469.

 

Posted on by Emily Warner, MA, Stephen D. Hudock, PhD, CSP, and Jack Lu, PhD, CPE

3 comments on “NLE Calc: A Mobile Application Based on the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation”

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    I have a question regarding the calculation of the horizontal location (H) for inputs into the model. I have a lifting task, where individuals are lifting sledge hammers off a line, the center of gravity of the load/lift is to the left of the left hand, so outside the area between the two hands, and the sledgehammer is being lifted with two hands. In the application manual it states to measure from the mid-point of the line joining the inner ankle bones (no problem here) to a point projected on the floor directly below the mid-point of the hand grasps (i.e. load center). The grey area to me is the “load center” is the load center the center between where the load is being handled, mid-point between the two hands, or in this instance, is the load center the center of gravity which is to the left of the left hand – the distances are not similar! For further clarification on the H measurement, I’m assuming it the total distance between the two points and not the horizontal distance projected out in front of the torso!

    Any clarification on these two points would be appreciated

    The NIOSH lifting equation is not designed to be used when the center of the load is not symmetrical. In your lifting condition the center of the load/gravity is located near the left hand and the asymmetry line for this lift would be off center creating additional risk to the low back. Also, the “true” H for this lift should be measured from the center of the load projected on the horizontal plane (i.e., ground) to the center of the two ankles (on the ground plane as well). In this case, the true H would be greater than the H measured by definition. I do not recommend using NLE for this lifting condition. If this lift is not frequently performed, a biomechanical model such as the U of Michigan’s 3DSSPP is a good assessment tool.

    Hope the info helps.

    I really appreciate the good quality content you are posting here for free. It’s really interesting site. Here we develop the Mobile and web applications

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