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Observation-based posture assessment : review of current practice and recommendations for improvement

  • Published Date:

    July 2014

  • Series:
    DHHS publication ; no. (NIOSH) 2014-131
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-1.73 MB]

  • Description:
    This document is a joint effort between NIOSH and the Canadian Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD). This report describes an observational approach for assessing postural stress of the trunk and upper limbs that is intended to improve risk analysis for prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. The approach is supported by several recent research studies. These studies have evaluated how much time it takes observers to classify specific trunk and upper limb postures, how frequently observers are likely to make posture classification errors, and the magnitude of these errors. The frequency and magnitude of posture classification errors depend on how many categories (lev- els) are available from which to classify the specific posture. Recent studies suggest that optimal posture analysis performance is obtained by partitioning trunk flex- ion range of motion into 4 categories of 30° increments; trunk lateral bend into 3 categories of 15° increments; shoulder flexion into 5 categories of 30°; shoulder abduction into 5 categories of 30°; and elbow flexion into 4 categories of 30°. These categories are suggested because they optimize how rapidly and effectively ana- lysts can visually judge posture. This report also presents more general guidelines for the video recording of posture and for the posture analysis process. Guidelines for video recording address such factors as camera position, field of view, lighting, and duration of recording. Guidelines for posture analysis address enhancements such as the benefits of digital video, computer software, training, and use of visual reference and perspective cues. Information in this report can assist health/safe- ty, ergonomics, and risk management/loss control practitioners who conduct job/ worksite assessments of lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, and/or manual handling risk factors. Suggested citation: NIOSH [2014]. Observation-based posture assessment: review of current practice and recommendations for improvement. By Lowe BD, Weir PL, Andrews DM. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2014–131. CDC-INFO Pub ID 221810
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