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New Resource Helps Practitioners Enhance Posture Assessment Practices in the Workplace

July 31, 2014
NIOSH Update:

Cover page for publication 2014-131

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the Canadian Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders, has released a new report that can help occupational health and safety practitioners more accurately and efficiently assess postural stress of workers performing their duties at work. The ability to conduct posture assessments in the workplace can assist with the prevention and control of musculoskeletal disorders.

The report, Observation-Based Posture Assessment: Review of Current Practice and Recommendations for Improvement, describes a research-based approach to classifying the severity of torso and arm posture. This approach has been demonstrated to improve the accuracy and efficiency of workplace posture analysis. Authors address enhancements such as the benefits of digital video, computer software, training and use of visual cues. Additionally, the report provides practitioners with useful tips for digitally recording and analyzing workers’ posture.

“Overexertion injuries to muscles, bones or joints cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year,” said Brian Lowe, Ph.D., research industrial engineer and NIOSH author. “This report can assist practitioners by providing research-based and practical recommendations to improve their practice of posture analysis of workers who are at risk of injury from lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or manual handling.”

A few useful tips for recording and analyzing workers’ posture include:

  • Record the task from multiple views and encourage the worker to avoid loose-fitting clothing;
  • If possible, have one of those views be perpendicular to the plane of the joint movement; and
  • Zoom in on limb segments so that the joint of interest is as large as possible in the camera field of view.

To learn more about the Division of Applied Research and Technology visit and to download a copy of the report visit

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. It was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. For further information, visit