Cumulative Mass and NIOSH Variable Lifting Index Method for Risk Assessment: Possible Relations

Giulia Stucchi, Natale Battevi, Monica Pandolfi, Luca Galinotti, Simona Iodice, Chiara Favero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to explore whether the Variable Lifting Index (VLI) can be corrected for cumulative mass and thus test its efficacy in predicting the risk of low-back pain (LBP). Background: A validation study of the VLI method was published in this journal reporting promising results. Although several studies highlighted a positive correlation between cumulative load and LBP, cumulative mass has never been considered in any of the studies investigating the relationship between manual material handling and LBP. Method: Both VLI and cumulative mass were calculated for 2,374 exposed subjects using a systematic approach. Due to high variability of cumulative mass values, a stratification within VLI categories was employed. Dummy variables (1–4) were assigned to each class and used as a multiplier factor for the VLI, resulting in a new index (VLI_CMM). Data on LBP were collected by occupational physicians at the study sites. Logistic regression was used to estimate the risk of acute LBP within levels of risk exposure when compared with a control group formed by 1,028 unexposed subjects. Results: Data showed greatly variable values of cumulative mass across all VLI classes. The potential effect of cumulative mass on damage emerged as not significant (p value =.6526). Conclusion: When comparing VLI_CMM with raw VLI, the former failed to prove itself as a better predictor of LBP risk. Application: To recognize cumulative mass as a modifier, especially for lumbar degenerative spine diseases, authors of future studies should investigate potential association between the VLI and other damage variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-67
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • biomechanics
  • cumulative load
  • cumulative mass
  • job risk assessment
  • low-back pain
  • manual materials handling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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