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Occupational Requirements Survey

Low postures

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The Occupational Requirements Survey (ORS) publishes job-related information on physical demands; environmental conditions; education, training, and experience; as well as cognitive and mental requirements. The job requirements reflect those necessary for workers to perform critical tasks in support of the critical job functions, and not the capabilities of individual workers. Low postures estimates are considered part of the physical demand for workers in the U.S.

There are four positions included in low postures:

  • Crawling – moving about on hands and knees or hands and feet.
  • Crouching – bending the body downward and forward by bending the legs and spine.
  • Kneeling – bending the legs at the knees to come to rest on the knee or knees.
  • Stooping – bending the body forward and down while bending the spine at the waist 45 degrees or more either over something below waist level or down towards an object on or near the ground. Stooping should be significant enough that when bending, if arms were extended, workers’ hands would be at or below the knees. Stooping must be performed while standing.

The low posture estimates indicate the percentage of workers with the requirement to perform critical tasks in low postures and are provided as:

  • Not required – when no low posture position is generally required to perform critical tasks.
  • Required – when the job, the nature of critical tasks performed, or the physical settings of work environment dictates the use of specific low postures.
  • Worker’s choice – when none of the criteria from required apply and workers may choose the posture they use. For instance, workers may be able to either crouch or kneel to perform a job requirement.

Workers may be required to perform some critical tasks in a specific low posture and other critical tasks may allow for choice in low postures.

Low postures were not required for 42.4 percent of civilian workers. There were some occupations where 100 percent of workers were not required to perform critical tasks in low postures. For example, hearing aid specialists, economics teachers, and proofreaders and copy markers.

While 57.6 percent of civilian workers were required to perform critical tasks in low postures, crouching was required for 9.3 percent of workers. Another 38.4 percent of civilian workers were able to choose whether to crouch to complete critical tasks. (See Chart A.)

Chart A. Percentage of civilian workers with low posture requirements, 2022   

Crawling was required for 73.0 percent of firefighters, 62.1 percent were required to crouch, 62.3 percent were required to kneel, and 61.6 percent were required to stoop. (See Chart B.)

Chart B. Percentage of workers with low posture requirements by occupation, 2022   

Crawling is the only low posture that involves movement, and it is less easily replaced by other low postures. Although crawling is less interchangeable, there may be instances where workers have a choice whether to crawl or perform another posture. For example, electricians may have a choice of whether to crawl while working on low wiring, but they may also stoop, kneel, or crouch if they prefer. Crawling was required for 32.6 percent of electricians and 17.7 percent could choose to crawl. (See Chart C.)

  Chart C. Percentage of workers with choice of low posture by occupation, 2022

Durations of low postures

Low posture duration estimates are also published when possible. However, these measure the duration of low postures and are not available for individual postures (crawling, crouching, kneeling, and stooping).

Duration estimates provide the percentage of workers performing low posture by the portion (or range) within the workday spent performing critical tasks in low postures. For instance, 16.5 percent of psychiatric aides were required to perform critical tasks in low postures up to two percent of the workday (seldom) and 82.3 percent were required to perform tasks in low postures occasionally (two percent to 1/3 of the workday). The sum of these estimates equals the total percentage of psychiatric aides with low posture requirements: 98.8 percent.

Similarly, while 100 percent of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers were required to perform tasks in low postures, 4.6 percent of these workers performed critical tasks seldom (up to two percent of the workday), 66 percent performed critical tasks in low postures occasionally (from two percent up to 1/3 of the workday), and 29.4 percent performed tasks in low postures frequently (from 1/3 up to 2/3 of the workday).

Table 1. Percentage of workers with low posture requirement durations by occupation, 2022
Occupation Required Seldom Occasionally Frequently

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

100.0 4.6 66.0 29.4

Maids and housekeeping cleaners

99.9 7.7 77.0 15.2

Psychiatric aides

98.8 16.5 82.3 -

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

91.0 32.1 55.4 3.5

Furnace, kiln, oven, drier, and kettle operators and tenders

77.0 26.7 50.3 -

Food servers, nonrestaurant

76.4 37.3 39.1 -

First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

75.9 16.5 56.5 2.9

Facilities managers

73.1 32.1 41.0 -

Parts salespersons

68.9 18.4 50.5 -

Computer numerically controlled tool operators

63.0 21.2 41.8 -

Note: Dashes indicate that estimate was not publishable or there are no workers with the requirement.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey


Additional resources:



For additional information on occupational requirements see the ORS homepage or download the ORS complete dataset to explore the latest estimates.