Can a new behaviorally oriented training process to improve lifting technique prevent occupationally related back injuries due to lifting?

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007 Feb 15;32(4):487-94. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000255203.96898.f2.


Study design: A prospective randomized control trial.

Objective: To determine the degree to which a new behavior-based lift training program (LiftTrainer; Ascension Technology, Burlington, VT) could reduce the incidence of low back disorder in distribution center jobs that require repetitive lifting.

Summary of background data: Most studies show programs aimed at training lifting techniques to be ineffective in preventing low back disorders, which may be due to their conceptual rather than behavioral learning approach.

Methods: A total of 2144 employees in 19 distribution centers were randomized into either the LiftTrainer program or a video control group. In the LiftTrainer program, participants were individually trained in up to 5, 30-minute sessions while instrumented with motion capture sensors to quantify the L5/S1 moments. Twelve months following the initial training, injury data were obtained from company records.

Results: Survival analyses (Kaplan-Meier) indicated that there was no difference in injury rates between the 2 training groups. Likewise, there was no difference in the turnover rates. However, those with a low (<30 Nm) average twisting moment at the end of the first session experienced a significantly (P < 0.005) lower rate of low back disorder than controls.

Conclusions: While overall the LiftTrainer program was not effective, those with twisting moments below 30 Nm reported fewer injuries, suggesting a shift in focus for "safe" lifting programs.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Back Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lifting / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*