Variable Lifting Index for Manual-Lifting Risk Assessment

Natale Battevi, Monica Pandolfi, Ivan Cortinovis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the new Variable Lifting Index (VLI) method, theoretically based on the Revised National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH] Lifting Equation (RNLE), in predicting the risk of acute low-back pain (LBP) in the past 12 months. Background: A new risk variable termed the VLI for assessing variable manual lifting has been developed, but there has been no epidemiological study that evaluates the relationship between the VLI and LBP. Method: A sample of 3,402 study participants from 16 companies in different industrial sectors was analyzed. Of the participants, 2,374 were in the risk exposure group involving manual materials handling (MMH), and 1,028 were in the control group without MMH. The VLI was calculated for each participant in the exposure group using a systematic approach. LBP information was collected by occupational physicians at the study sites. The risk of acute LBP was estimated by calculating the odds ratio (OR) between levels of the risk exposure and the control group using a logistic regression analysis. Both crude and adjusted ORs for body mass index, gender, and age were analyzed. Results: Both crude and adjusted ORs showed a dose-response relationship. As the levels of VLI increased, the risk of LBP increased. This risk relationship existed when VLI was greater than 1. Conclusion: The VLI method can be used to assess the risk of acute LBP, although further studies are needed to confirm the outcome and to define better VLI categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-725
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2016


  • biomechanics
  • job risk assessment
  • low-back pain
  • manual materials handling
  • risk assessment
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Variable Lifting Index for Manual-Lifting Risk Assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this