In 1994 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation—an ergonomics assessment tool that can be used to calculate the recommended weight limit for two-handed manual-lifting tasks. However, NIOSH excluded assessment of patient-handling tasks from the uses of the revised equation, arguing that such tasks involve too many variables. The equation in fact can be used to calculate a recommended weight limit for a limited range of patient-handling tasks in which the patient is cooperative and unlikely to move suddenly during the task. In general, the revised equation yields a recommended 35-lb. maximum weight limit for use in patient-handling tasks. When weight to be lifted exceeds this limit, assistive devices should be used.
The Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation provides support for recommended weight limits.
Four nurses are about to move a fully dependent patient weighing 200 lbs. Can they do so without risking injury to themselves? Perhaps not; the revised lifting equation from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health yields a 35-lb. recommended weight limit for patient-handling tasks. Learn more about using this recommendation in clinical settings.
Thomas R. Waters is a research safety engineer in the Division of Applied Research and Technology at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Cincinnati, OH.
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The author has no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of NIOSH. Experts at NIOSH reviewed the article and made suggestions for revision during peer review. © 2007 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. No claim is made to U.S. government material.