Authors: Jäger, Matthias
Title: Extended compilation of autopsy-material measurements on lumbar ultimate compressive strength for deriving reference values in ergonomic work design
Other Titles: the Revised Dortmund Recommendations
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: Measures of human physical capacity are required in ergonomic work design. To avoid biomechanical low-back overload, criteria are needed to differentiate load and overload. With respect to the evaluation of manual materials handling and similar physical exposures regarding potential overload, the compression component of the forces transferred via lumbar discs or vertebrae are compared with the ultimate compressive strength of lumbarspine segments in a common biomechanical approach. As mechanical load-bearing capacity cannot be quantified directly in vivo, forces are applied to dissected spinal elements up to failure, which is interpreted as a measure of ultimate strength or tolerance to compression. Corresponding autopsy-material measurements were collected from literature and examined regarding several conditions: At the very minimum, a specimen consists of a complete vertebra or a disc including the adjacent endplates; failure is identified definitely as lumbar; compressiveforce application is quasi-static; results are given as single values etc. This study continues previous collations, the latest is dated on 2001 including 25 usable out of 47 investigations totally. Currently, 66 newly discovered seemingly appropriate studies were collected via a systematic literature search, 11 of them were added for subsequent analysis. Nearly 4,000 values were compiled, 1,192 remained for analysis. Human lumbar ultimate compressive strength varies between 0.6 and 15.6 kN, mean and standard deviation are 4.84 ± 2.50 kN. For data originating from donors of specified gender and aged 20 years or more, the distributions are characterised by 6.09 ± 2.69 kN for male adults (n=305) and 3.95 ± 1.79 kN for female adults (n=205). According to a linear regression model for donors aged 20 years or more, strength significantly decreases with age: 10.43 kN minus 0.923 kN per 10 years of age for males and 7.65 kN minus 0.685 kN per decade for females. Based on these gendered age relations, the “Revised Dortmund Recommendations” were derived ranging between 5.4 kN for males aged 20 years and 2.2 kN for males of 60 years or more. The corresponding recommended limits for females amount to 4.1 and 1.8 kN, respectively. A specific safety margin was implemented for young adults up to 25 years of age as skeletal strength may not be fully developed. Due to the compression-related and biomechanical nature of this approach, other influences like shear or torsion as well as psychological or psychosocial risk factors remain unconsidered despite their undoubted importance for initiating complaints, disorders and diseases at the low-back region.
Subject Headings: Lumbar spine
Ultimate compressive strength
Literature search
Tolerance to compression
Revised Dortmund Recommendations
Work design
Issue Date: 2018-04-27
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