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Ergonomic analysis of residential construction tasks using a subjective assessment scale and evaluation of the influences of personal and workplace factors on perceived low back strain.

Gilkey-DP; Keefe-TJ; Hautaluoma-JE; Bigelow-PL; Sweere-JJ
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :1
Low back pain among residential construction carpentry workers is at epidemic proportions. Ergonomic evaluation of job-tasks is needed to better understand the actual vs. perceived low back stresses when performing carpentry work. A major aim of this study was to measure and analyze subjective low back strain / effort related to residential framing carpentry job-tasks and personal and workplace factors that might influence perceived exertion. Investigators initially identified the 44 major job-tasks performed by framing carpenters when building a wood-framed residential home followed by the development of a survey instrument. The study survey used a modified 5-point Borg scale consistent with previous investigators to measure low back strain related to each of the 44 job-tasks: 1) no strain, 2) low strain, 3) moderate strain, 4) high strain, 5) very high strain. Zero was recorded if the job-task was not performed. The survey was administered to 94 framing carpenters in the Denver Metro area of Colorado. In this study, each respondent rated all 44 job-tasks for which mean strain scores ranged from 1.05 to 3.08 (p < 0.001). The low back strain scores were evaluated to assess the relationships to personal and workplace factors. Personal and workplace factors were found to significantly (p < 0.05) influence subjective strain rating in nearly all of the 44 job-tasks. For example, if their level of physical exhaustion was rated "always", this had an impact on ratings in 36 of the 44 job-tasks (p < 0.05). The levels of both mental and physical exhaustion were positively correlated to low back strain ratings (p < 0.05). This research demonstrates that human factors have a significant influence on how carpenters perceive low back stress and strain related to their daily work and therefore must be considered in ergonomic analyses.
Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Back-injuries; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Questionnaires; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Ergonomics; Work-practices
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Research Tools and Approaches: Intervention Effectiveness Research
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Performing Organization
Colorado State University, Environmental Health Department, Fort Collins, Colorado