Ergonomic guidelines for the prevention on low back pain at the workplace

Jan Dul, VH Hildebrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to discuss the usefulness of common ergonomie guidelines for preventing low back pain at the workplace. Sixteen recent ergonomie, biomechanical and epidemiological books were reviewed to obtain common ergonomie guidelines for both static and dynamic work (e.g., sitting, lifting), and to obtain an overview of commonly-observed individual and work-related risk factors of low back pain. The results show that the aspects of work for which ergonomie guidelines are presented generally correspond to work-related risk factors as shown by epidemiological studies. However, in quantitative terms the guidelines show a great variety, possibly due to differences in criteria. In certain cases, it is not clear whether or not the guidelines are based on back load or back pain data, due to lack of references. It appears that many guidelines are based upon a combination of back load criteria and other criteria, although it is unknown how these criteria are combined. Hence, many guidelines do not apply specifically to low back pain. With certain exceptions, most guidelines do not take into account individual factors, although epidemiological studies indicate that several factors such as age, strength, fitness, psychosocial factors, and history of back pain should be considered. However, because of the qualitative character of most current epidemiological studies, results cannot be readily implemented into quantitative ergonomie guidelines. The above general results are discussed with examples. It is concluded that there is a great need for ergonomie guidelines that apply specifically to low back pain, and for quantitative epidemiological data on which these guidelines may be based.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

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