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Guidelines for Safe One-Handed Lifting Available for Free Use

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has released its guidelines to help practitioners assess one-handed lifting and lowering tasks required during manual materials handling.  Various assessment tools exist that estimate low-back disorder risks using two hands, but this is the first known guide for one-handed lifting situations.

A spreadsheet containing these guidelines can be downloaded here.  Information needed to assess or design one-handed activities includes:

  • The height from/to which the one-handed lifting/lowering occurs;
  • The distance the load is held from the body;
  • The amount of trunk twisting (asymmetry) involved during load handling;
  • Load weight; and
  • Lift frequency.   

The guidelines present results in a "green/yellow/red" format:

  • Low Risk ("green") - The amount of spine loading is safe for at least 80% of the population, making activity acceptable;
  • Medium Risk  (yellow") - The amount of spine loading is safe for 50-80% of the population, but activity improvements are recommended; and 
  • High Risk ("red") - The amount of spine loading is safe for less than 50% of the population, and making activity improvements is strongly recommended.

More information about this assessment tool, including research background, step-by-step instructions, and guidelines presented in graphical form, can be found here

These guidelines were developed based on research conducted by The Ohio State University's Spine Research Institute and funded by the Ohio BWC.  The research paper published, which provides more details about this study, can be found here.