Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

9278015 - NIOSH Lifting Equation: Evaluation of CD-ROM Training

Start Date: 10/1/1999
End Date: 9/30/2009

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Carol Stephenson
Phone: 513-533-8581
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: EID
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed


Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

Occupational lower back disorders are among the most common health problems facing society today. To address this, NIOSH developed the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation (RNLE), and a text to teach the RNLE. To properly use the RNLE, measurements are required, but users reported difficulty using the text alone. To address this problem, training using a self-directed interactive CD-ROM was developed. A study compared the effectiveness of four training approaches to teach the proper use of the RNLE: self-directed CD-ROM, CD-ROM with instructor, self-directed printed text, and printed text with instructor. Of particular interest was the self-directed CD-ROM group. If the CD-ROM without instructor can adequately provide training to properly use the RNLE, then it will fill a gap in delivering training to those without access to an instructor.


In response to the enormous health problem and social cost of low back disorders NIOSH developed the NIOSH Lifting Equation (LE) as a practical analysis tool for evaluating the physical demands of two-handed manual lifting tasks. This LE analysis tool consists of two equations for estimating the recommended weight limit (RWL) for a specified manual lifting task and a lifting index (LI) for estimating the physical demands of the job. However, accurate and precise measurements of six critical parameters are required in order to properly use the LE. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to provide detailed instructions on conducting the precise measurements required for the LE using printed text. It is also not possible for NIOSH to provide on-site or classroom training for all potential users of the LE. Therefore, through this project, NIOSH has developed and is currently evaluating an electronic self-directed instructional program which can visually demonstrate how to conduct the required measurements and use an automatic calculator for estimating RWL and LI. Content experts from DART are collaborating with training, evaluation, and information specialists in EID. The project consists of several phases: product development (completed in 04), pilot testing (04), controlled study for effectiveness (conducted in 05), and product refinement as an interactive CD-ROM (06 & 07), and final production for distribution 08. The product evaluation consisted of a controlled study comparing traditional classroom instruction with the CD-ROM instruction. Both self-directed and instructor assisted groups were evaluated. This electronic training will increase the usefulness of the NIOSH LE for job redesign and contribute to lower rates of back injury in the workplace. In FYO7 results were analyzed and prepared for publication. Distribution of the CD-ROM will occur in FY08 and FY09.


Broad Long Term Objectives: This study aims to improve professional training and thus reduce the rates and severities of lower back injuries and related disorders in the workplace. Minimizing Lower-back injuries in the workplace would be an important factor in reducing lost work days, reducing work's compensation costs, and increasing the overall quality of the workplace. This project evaluated the effectiveness of a CD-ROM training program for manual lifting tasks. By comparing traditional text and instruction with new multimedia methodologies, this project will determine whether the use of multimedia technologies in training enhances learning and performance regarding how to use the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation. Outcome goals:

The goal of this study is to show that immediate and interactive feedback received from a CD-ROM, as well as both audio and visual presentation of the training material will facilitate a greater degree of accuracy and correctness in using the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation. Also, the increased ease of use and the real-time interactivity of the CD-ROM technology may have the effect of facilitating a greater usage of the lifting equation by safety professionals. This may eventually result in a reduction in lower back disorders.

Mission Relevance

Back disorders in the United States account for about one-fourth of all lost workdays (half a billion lost workdays), and 16% of all workers' compensation claims and 33% of claims costs. NIOSH concluded that 'there is strong evidence that low back disorders are associated with work-related lifting and forceful movements.' As many as 30% of American workers are employed in jobs that routinely require them to perform activities that are associated with work-related back pain. The NIOSH lifting equation (LE) is a tool by which occupational safety & health (OSH) professionals can calculate recommended lifting weights (RWL) and estimate the physical stress for specified lifting-tasks (LT). However, a present shortcoming of the LE is that significant training is needed in order to measure accurately derive the input data needed for the calculations, and use the charts and formulas to compute correctly the RWL and LT. This project will overcome this drawback by developing an effective step-by-step electronic instructional program and an automatic calculator for RWL/LT. The added advantage of electronic training is the potential for distance learning, so as to reduce the demand for travel resources. Increased access to training and improved ease-of-use will expand use of the LE by worksite professionals, and increase correct job-redesign to reduce back injuries.


100% Manufacturing

Cross Sector:

100% Musculoskeletal

SG4: Prevention and reduction of musculoskeletal disorders and related consequences.

SG4-IG1: Industry and job-specific engineering solutions, administrative practices, training, personal protective equipment, and medical management for preventing MSDs.