Investigation and analysis of spinal strain based on occupational groups from the metal industry

Project No. BGEM #019


completed 03/1998


Occupational illness of the spine; knowledge deficit with regard to occupational cause. Goal: determining the individual strain on the intervertebral disks of the lumbar vertebral column in true-to-life working situations with the help of 3-dimensional movement analysis and biomechanical model calculations.


Group: 12 of each of the following: pipe fitter, locksmith and scaffolder from shipyard companies; 1. occupational scientific field study: continued investigation of activities, posture, work load, environmental conditions and work equipment (multi snapshots); 2. biomechanical laboratory test: recreation of typical working conditions based on video recordings of the field trials, 3-D movement analysis (combination of VICON and EMG), derivation of individual compressional and transverse forces in the spinal column with an individually adapted whole-body model; 3. orthopaedic test: inquiry and assessments of the clinical status ("Eppendorf Orthopaedic Examination Form").


Different lifting and carrying procedures led to very high maximum loads on the lumbar intervertebral disks in part well in excess of the risk limit of 3400 N (NIOSH). Consideration of the dynamic effects shows that even small loads can give rise to high compressional forces. Large inter-individual differences exist in reaction forces (anthropometry, working technique). Quantitative correlation of individual work strategies with the level of compressional forces make the identification of movement patterns which induce damage to or protect intervertebral disks possible.


Mitteilungsblatt der Norddeutschen Metall-Berufsgenossenschaft "Gesund und sicher" 4/1999, S. 120-122

Last Update:

15 Aug 2000


Financed by:
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Eisen- und Metall-Berufsgenossenschaften
Research institution(s):
  • Orthopädische Universitätsklinik Hamburg-Eppendorf
  • beteiligt: Werftbetriebe
  • Norddeutsche Metall-Berufsgenossenschaft

metal working

Type of hazard:

Handhabung von Lasten, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren


Heben und Tragen von Lasten, Gefährdungsbeurteilung, Berufskrankheit

Description, key words:

Shipyard labourer, spine, determining and assessing strain