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External L5-S1 joint moments when lifting wire mesh screen used to prevent rock falls in underground mines
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    Bolting large sheets of wire mesh screen (WMS) to the roof of underground mines prevents injuries due to rock falls. However, WMS can be heavy and awkward to lift and transport, and may result in significant spinal loading. Accordingly, six male subjects (mean age =45.8 years + 7.5 SD) were recruited to lift WMS in a laboratory investigation of the biomechanical demands. Biomechanical modeling was used to estimate external moments about L5-S1 for sixteen lifting tasks, using two sizes of WMS. Full-size WMS involved a two-person lift, while half-size WMS involved a one-person lift. Lifts were performed under 168 cm and 213 cm vertical space. Restriction in vertical space increased the maximum L5-S1 extensor moment from 254 to 274 Nm and right lateral bending moment from 195 to 251 Nm. Lifting full sheets of screen (as opposed to half sheets) resulted in an average 33 Nm increase in L5-S1 extensor moment. The L5-S1 extensor moment was increased by an average of 44 Nm (18%) when lifting screens positioned flat on the floor compared to an upright position. Relevance to industry: Large flexible materials are commonly lifted in industrial work environments, and may involve the efforts of two or more workers. The current study examines the low back loading associated with lifting large flexible screens and presents recommendations to reduce spine loading.
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