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NIOSH farm children tool

Child ergo research  |  Ergonomics for Children (book)



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NIOSH static 2D biomechanics model calculates ergonomics risk for children and adolescents working on farms

Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee used the available strength and anthropometric data (above) to develop the NIOSH 2D Child Strength Program, a computerized two-dimensional strength prediction program for use with young workers  (Waters & Garg, 2003)   [2].

This NIOSH computer program calculates the percent of young persons who will be sufficiently strong to perform specific pushing, pulling or lifting task by age and gender.

This Child Strength Prediction Program also estimates loads on the spine based on the administrators’ responses regarding the child’s age, gender, necessary body posture, weight and direction of force (i.e., push, pull or lift).

An example of this tool is on the right.  In this example, between 70% and 99% of 12 year-old males have the knee, ankle, hip, shoulder and elbow strength to lift 22.7 kg (50 lb) in the posture shown, but only 2% have the necessary trunk strength.

NIOSH program for calculating ergonomics risk for children on farms
Output Screen for the NIOSH
Static 2-D Biomechanical Model for Children


This program estimates that the task involves a compression of the spine and shear force of 412 kg (909 lb).  The acceptable compression force for adult males is 350 kg.  (770 lb), so this is obviously far above an acceptable level for a child (Waters et al., 1993).

This software program is still under development and has not yet been validated against alternate strength norms for children.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify any alternate strength norms for comparison.  Even so, it is an excellent tool to evaluate the fit between a child’s strength and the demands of the tasks.  The results tell you when to re-engineer a task or when someone with greater strength or a team of workers may be required.

1.  Waters, T. R. and Garg, A (2003).

2.   Gaps in the data among older youth were extrapolated to estimate the continued increases in strength.

See also Allread, Wilkins, Waters & Marras (2004) Physical demands and low-back injury risk among children and adolescents working on farms. J Agric Safety Health.  10(4), 257-274.  Citation  |  Pubmed link

CDC / NIOSH Proceedings on preventing musculoskeletal disorders
among farm children and adolescents


More ergonomics for children  |  Child Ergonomics (ErgoExpo)

Ergonomics for children:  products & places for toddlers to teens  (new book)

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