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The Effect of Wearing a Back Belt on Spine Kinematics During Asymmetric Lifting of Large and Small Boxes

Giorcelli, Rebecca J., PhD,*; Hughes, Richard E., PhD,†; Wassell, James T., PhD,* and; Hsiao, Hongwei, PhD*

Occupational Health/Ergonomics

Study Design. A crossover design was used to evaluate kinematic measurements collected with an infrared-based motion measurement system.

Objectives. To evaluate belt effects on spine kinematics during asymmetric lifting of large and small boxes and to test for carryover effects between trials from belts.

Summary of Background Data. Conflicting evidence in the literature exists regarding whether belts are beneficial or detrimental to manual material handlers. Studies have not examined belt effects when lifting different sized boxes, nor carryover effects from belts.

Methods. Twenty-eight subjects with manual-handling experience (17 male and 11 female) were randomly assigned to lift either a large or small box (weighing 9.4 kg), from a sagittally symmetric origin at pallet height to a 79 cm height, 60° to the right. Spine flexion, lateral bending and twisting, hip and knee flexion, and angular velocity measurements of the torso with respect to the pelvis were collected for each of three lifting periods, 50 lifts each at 3 lifts per minute, with 18-minute breaks between periods.

Results. Belts significantly reduced maximum spine flexion, spine flexion and extension angular velocities, and torso left lateral bending angular velocity, and increased hip and knee flexion, regardless of box size. When lifting large boxes, belts significantly reduced torso right lateral bending and torso left twisting. No significant differential carryover effects were detected from belts.

Conclusions. Subjects with belts lifted more slowly and used more of a squat-lift technique, regardless of box size. Belts reduced more torso motions while lifting large boxes.

From the *Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia, and

†Orthopaedic Research Laboratories, Section of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Address reprint requests to

Hongwei Hsiao, PhD

Chief, Protective Technology Branch Division of Safety Research

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

1095 Willowdale Road, Mailstop G-800

Morgantown, WV 26505


Acknowledgment date: May 8, 2000.

First revision date: August 18, 2000.

Second revision date: November 13, 2000.

Acceptance date: December 1, 2000.

Device status category: 1.

Conflict of interest category: 12.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.