Musculoskeletal disorders

NIOSH: Mechanical lift aids may help reduce MSDs among airport baggage handlers


Photo: NIOSH

Cincinnati – Two types of mechanical lift aids may help prevent musculoskeletal disorders among baggage screeners and handlers at airports, according to a recent NIOSH report.

According to the agency, the average checked bag weighs about 32 pounds – and some exceed 70 pounds. This can require “intensive” lifting from both baggage screeners, who place bags onto conveyors after screening, and baggage handlers, who lift five to 10 bags per minute while loading or unloading airplanes.

NIOSH found that two lifting aids – vacuum lifting assist systems and automatic baggage moving systems – reduced “hand loading and spinal compression force.” When using the vacuum lifting assist device, the average minimal pushing/pulling force was lowered to 2.7 pounds for a 25-pound bag, 4 pounds for a 40-pound bag and 4.2 pounds for a 50-pound bag.

The automatic baggage moving system eliminates lifting and reduces pushing force. Compressive force in the lower back was lowered 44 percent when using the device.