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C6.1 Visual Reference Effect on Balance Control in Roof Work-Simeonov PI, Hsiao H

Falls from roofs are the leading cause of fatal fall injuries in the construction industry. From a biomechanical and psychophysiological standpoint the majority of occupational fall incidents, including falls from roofs, can be attributed to deterioration and disruptions in worker's balance control. Identifying the critical factors that could deteriorate the control of balance during roof work can help to develop effective fall-prevention strategies.

In a laboratory study we investigated the effects of height and close visual references on workers' postural stability and their interaction effects with roof slope, and roof surface firmness. Workers performed standing tasks on inclined [(00), 4/12 (~180), 6/12 (~260), 8/12 (~340)] and compliant surfaces at height (0', 10', 30') with close visual structures included or excluded from their peripheral visual field. Workers' standing balance was determined from the movement of their center of pressure (CP) measured by a force platform.

The results from 10 subjects demonstrate that visual exposure to environments without close visual references significantly increased worker body sway parameters (velocity of sway, area of sway, RMS of ML and AP sway). These effects were compounded by surface firmness (i.e., unstable support), workplace height, and surface slope. Close visual references significantly reduced sway and restored some of the sway characteristics (AP sway and sway area) to their baseline values.

These data can assist the roofing industry in modifying the roof work environment for improving workers' posture stability. The results of this study may also be used to develop a methodology for roofers' safety training with focus on the role of visual factors.


C6.2 Computational Simulation of Electrical Arc Parameters-Capelli-Schellpfeffer M, Miller GH

There were over 540,000 electrical workers in the United States in 1992. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 1994 show 11,153 cases of reported days away from work due to electrical burns, electrocution/electrical shock injuries, and fires and explosions. In 1994, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries noted 548 employees died from these exposures out a total 6,588 work-related fatalities nationwide. Electrocution is a frequent cause of construction-related fatality.

The clinical spectrum of electrical injury ranges from the absence of any external physical signs to severe multiple trauma requiring extensive surgical care. Reported neuropsychiatric sequelae can vary from vague complaints seemingly unrelated to the electrical injury event by their distance in time or apparent severity, to sequelae consistent with traumatic brain injury. In part, blast effects may explain why electrical injury patients without external signs of electrical contact may present with nervous system or hearing impairment.

Regarding arc blast to date there is no causal link that has been established to guide treatment decisions, assist in triage assessment, or serve as the basis for recommendations on future preventive measures. To investigate the possible etiologic relationships between electrical arc phenomena and electrical injury and fatality, we have pursued the development of computational models for electrical arc events including their acoustic component. Ultimately, the correlation between numerical simulations of arc forces and experimental data is expected to enhance understanding of the mechanisms of electrical injury and fatality as well as to assist with safety standards for electrical work practices around energized equipment. For example, the hazard management of electrical arcs' acoustic component has not routinely been incorporated into electrical safety training. Progress with pilot 2-dimensional techniques, results of 3-dimensional simulations compared to high voltage test lab experiments, and training applications are presented.


C6.3 Development of a Computerized Audit Tool for Control of Construction Falls-Becker PE, Fullen MD, Akladios M, Carr M

West Virginia University has developed and deployed a computerized field audit to assist in the conduct of a safety intervention research project. The audit tool is used in the field on a touch screen hand held computer to monitor construction contractor compliance with a fall hazard management program provided by WVU. The field audit provides feed back to contractors, determines whether contractors can retain a Fall-Safe designation from WVU, and provides data to WVU on the impact of its intervention efforts.

The software is custom designed and incorporates questions that determine compliance with OSHA standards relating to falls. The audit tool generates percentage scores that indicate contractor successes in managing fall hazards. The algorithm that computes contractor scores rewards contractors for using engineering controls rather than personal protective equipment. The tool is intended to be field and user friendly. The tool has been field tested through 62 audits as plans are underway for its expansion and future development.


C6.4 Collision Warning Systems for Surface Mining Equipment-Ruff TM

In the past 5 years, powered haulage accounted for 43% of fatalities and was one of the top 5 sources of injuries in surface mines. Twenty-three of these fatalities occurred when a large capacity haulage truck ran into or over another vehicle in the truck driver's blind spot. One method of detecting an obstacle in the blind spot of large equipment and preventing a collision is to use some type of sensor technology such as radar or video cameras. Researchers at the Spokane Research Laboratory of NIOSH are testing off-the-shelf collision warning systems and developing new systems to meet the needs of the surface mining industry. This report summarizes the technologies available for this application, the advantages and disadvantages of each as determined by tests, and alternative sensor systems that are currently under development.




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Page last updated: March 2001
Page last reviewed: March 2001
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Safety Research