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Lower extremity balance demand for construction workers on stilts.

Chiou-S; Pan-C; Zwiener-J; Cantis-D; Ronaghi-M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2006 May; :7
Falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic injuries in the construction industry, largely attributable to tasks being performed at elevations. Stilts are equipment commonly used for drywall finishing, painting, and ceiling work that create an inherent fall risk from height. Previous researchers hypothesized that stilts may place workers at increased risk for knee injuries and falls; however, the balance-control mechanism behind such a hypothesis has not been quantitatively established. This study was conducted to examine the balance demands in sagittal and frontal planes and to evaluate stresses of lower extremities during gait with stilts. Kinetic and kinematics data were collected from 20 construction workers (age: 35.8 +/- 7.7 years) while walking with stilts at different heights (24 or 40 inches). The inverse dynamics approach was used to calculate internal joint moments. Results from repeated-measure ANOVA indicated that there was a significant increase in peak hip extension (1.37 Nm/kg), knee flexion (0.68 Nm/kg), and ankle plantar flexion (0.95 Nm/kg) moments on 40-inch stilts compared with no stilts (all p values < 0.0001). As the height of the stilt increased, lower extremity joint moments increased, suggesting more muscle activities were needed to maintain balance. In the frontal plane, the ankle joint produced a significant adduction moment (0.54 Nm/kg) on stilts during the second half of the stance phase. Hip muscles appeared to play a dominant role in progression from one step to another. Movement in the medial-lateral direction required an increased involvement of ankle muscles to maintain stability on stilts. Findings from this study indicate that stilts place the greatest increase in balance demands on the hip joints, followed by ankle and knee. To reduce the balance demands of lower extremities, it is suggested that workers avoid prolonged use of stilts, especially when stilts are elevated at high levels.
Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Knee-injuries; Workers; Worker-health; Age-factors
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 13-16, 2006, Chicago, Illinois