NIOSH Launches Mobile Lifting Calculator App

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a new, free mobile application (app) that can help workers stay safe when manually lifting objects as part of their job. The safe lifting app, named NLE Calc, is based on the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation (RNLE), an internationally recognized standard for safe lifting.

The new app can assist workers in manufacturing, healthcare, retail and other industries where lifting is part of the job. NLE Calc determines a score based on the data you enter about your lifting task and provides recommendations to help you optimize the task, or perform it differently, in order to prevent injury.

Features of the Safe Lifting App:

  • Calculates the composite lifting index (CLI) for multiple lifting tasks
  • Uses equations approved by NIOSH ergonomists
  • Promotes better musculoskeletal health and prevention benefits
  • Raises workers’ awareness about their job tasks
  • Helps workers make informed decisions about the potential hazards to their musculoskeletal health
  • Serves as job design guidelines for manual lifting tasks
  • Can be used as a research tool to collect manual lifting data

Based on the user’s input, the app calculates the lifting index, which is the ratio of the load lifted to the recommended weight limit for the lifting task, and displays the risk level as yellow (low), orange (medium), or high (red). NIOSH says NLE Calc is different from other lifting apps because it also gives workers the option of using the composite lifting equation to optimize multiple complex lifting tasks, such as lifting many objects of various weights in succession or lifting objects in awkward positions.

In addition to calculating the lifting index, the app provides users with recommendations to optimize the lifting task. Some examples of recommendations include the following:

  • Bring the load closer to the body.
  • Avoid twisting while lifting.
  • Raise the load to waist height before lifting.
  • Minimize the distance the load must be lifted.

“NLE Calc is a quick and simple way for a worker to assess their risk for injury before they manually lift an object,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, MD. “The information workers used to find in a manual is now in their back pocket and can help prevent one of the most common, and costly, work-related injuries.”

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD), common in industries where lifting is part of the job, cause one-third of work-related injuries resulting in missed workdays, costing about $45 to $54 billion annually in lost productivity and treatment, according to estimates from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.