A novel approach for evaluating level, frequency and duration of lumbar posture simultaneously during work

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2001 Dec;27(6):373-80. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.629.


Objectives: Electrogoniometers are used to collect continuous information on postural distributions among workers. Enormous quantities of data are generated that have to be reduced to meaningful parameters (angle, frequency, and duration). In this study we propose statistical models to determine these essential characteristics of postural load on nurses, housekeepers, and office workers.

Methods: A direct registration of the lumbar posture was made over a workday with an inclinometer. An exposure variation analysis was used to summarize information on the angle of trunk flexion, the time period of maintained postures, and the percentage of worktime in a data matrix. A hierarchical regression analysis was used to compare these characteristics among nurses (N=64), housekeepers (N=16), and office workers (N=27).

Results: The occupational groups did not differ for either frequency or duration of trunk flexion over 30 degrees since frequency and duration were inversely related. Nurses experienced longer worktimes than the office workers did for trunk flexion between 30 and 70 degrees maintained <5 seconds, whereas office workers experienced longer worktimes in smaller angles (< 30 degrees) for longer periods. Comparable differences in the distributions of postural load were found between housekeepers and office workers.

Conclusions: This study describes the use of hierarchical models in analyses of the exposure level, frequency, and duration of postural load simultaneously and offers an alternative to conventional ergonomic analysis in which the dynamics of exposure are often ignored. The distinction in postural load between nurses or housekeepers and office workers is best determined by the combination of trunk angle and time period.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Ergonomics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Household Work
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Weight-Bearing