Matthias Jäger receives NIOSH Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award

Many people know that heavy objects such as crates of drinks should be lifted close to the body „from the legs“ and if possible not „from the back“. Especially in occupations that involve a lot of repetitive lifting and carrying, correct posture is particularly important to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. In this context, Matthias Jäger from the Leibniz Institute for Occupational Research at TU Dortmund University (IfADo) and seven international colleagues have revised an international standard and interpreted the load limits that can be derived from it with regard to the risk of disease. For updating this standard, they received the NIOSH Bullard-Sherwood Research-to-Practice Award.

PD Dr. Matthias Jäger
About 40 years ago, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published an innovative comprehensive guide for safety professionals and workers. It was intended to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, especially low-back disorders, caused by frequent lifting. After a revision and extension, about 20 years ago the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) adopted the NIOSH Lifting Equation (Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation), contained in the guide and then modified, into its body of rules, with the recommendations on maximum load weights for repetitive lifting under standardised conditions for one working day. On the one hand, the simplicity of this procedure resulted in its widespread use, which brought awareness of potential risks into the focus of occupational medicine and ergonomics in Germany as well. On the other hand, numerous discussions arose both because of the limited range of applications – objects are not only lifted in everyday working life – and because of the limited scientific basis, which has been considerably expanded in recent decades by numerous studies, especially by the scientists currently receiving awards. These many years of research, for example, on long-term dose-effect relationships within the framework of the German Spine Studies, in which IfADo was significantly involved through the research group led by M. Jäger, now offer guidance in interpreting the load weight limits that can be derived through standard application with regard to the risk of developing low back disorders through manual lifting and carrying.

About NIOSH, Bullard and Sherwood

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Cincinnati (OH, USA) awards the „Research to Practice“ prizes to recognise outstanding efforts by its scientists and their partners. Their research focuses on occupational safety and health with the goal of preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and even fatalities. The name of the award was chosen in honour of two outstanding individuals who have significantly promoted prevention in the workplace: Edward W. Bullard designed various protective helmets, especially those for the construction workers of the Golden Gate Bridge, while R. Jeremy Sherwood invented and (further) developed sampling pumps for breathing air samples as well as respirators in the field of industrial hygiene.

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