Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA


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Estimating Work Rates or Loads

Examples of work activities that are considered light, moderate, heavy, and very heavy:

Work Rate Category Example Motions Example Tasks
  • Sitting
  • Attending a meeting (seated)
  • Reading instructions, completing paperwork
  • Watching a training video
  • Sitting with light manual work with hands and arms
  • Driving
  • Standing with some light arm work and occasional walking
  • Casual walking (2 miles per hour)
  • Lifting  10 pounds fewer than eight times per minute, or 25 pounds less than four times per minute
  • Using small bench tools or small power tools
  • Inspecting and sorting produce
  • Sorting light materials
  • Assembling small parts
  • Driving vehicle on roads
  • Nailing
  • Sustained moderate hand and arm work
  • Moderate arm and leg work
  • Moderate arm and trunk work
  • Moderate pushing and pulling
  •  Walking at a moderate speed
  • Lifting 10 pounds 10 times per minute, or 25 pounds six times per minute
  • Picking fruits and vegetables (bending, squatting)
  • Painting with a brush
  • Pushing or pulling lightweight carts or wheelbarrows
  • Off road operation of trucks, tractors or construction equipment
  • Operating an air hammer
  • Weeding or hoeing
  • Intense arm and trunk work
  • Carrying, shoveling, manual sawing
  • Pushing or pulling heavy loads
  • Walking at a fast pace (4 miles per hour)
  • Lifting 10 pounds 14 times per minute, or 25 pounds 10 times per minute
  • Transferring heavy materials, shoveling
  • Sledgehammer work
  • Hand mowing, digging
  • Concrete block laying
  • Pushing or pulling loaded hand carts or wheelbarrows
Very Heavy
  • Very intense activity at fast to maximum pace
  • Jogging, running or walking faster than 4 miles per hour
  • Lifting 10 pounds more than 18 times per minute, or 25 pounds more than 13 times per minute
  • Heavy shoveling or digging
  • Ax work
  • Climbing stairs, ramps or ladders


ACGIH, 2011. Heat Stress and Strain, in TLVs and BEIs, American Conference of Industrial Hygienists, Cincinnati, OH.

Ramsey, J and Bishop, P. 2003. Hot and Cold Environments (Chapter 24), in The Occupational Environment, its Evaluation, Control, and Management (S.R. DiNardi, Editor), American Industrial Hygiene Association. [After McArdle, Katch and Katch (1996)].

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Heat Index Risk Level Protective Measures
Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

OSHA is a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador committed to working with NOAA and other Ambassadors to strengthen national preparedness for and resilience against extreme weather.

How can OSHA help? Workers have a right to a safe workplace. If you think your job is unsafe or have questions, visit OSHA's Worker's Page or call 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA). It's confidential. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.

OSHA also provides help to employers. OSHA's On-site Consultation Program offers free and confidential advice to small and medium-sized businesses in all states across the country, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. For more information or for additional compliance assistance contact OSHA at 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA).

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