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Ergonomics and construction: a review of potential hazards in new construction.

Schneider S; Susi P
Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 1994 Jul; 55(7):635-649
Ergonomic aspects of potential hazards in new construction environments were reviewed. Ergonomic problems were studied during the construction of a four story office building in Washington, DC over a 15 month period, and the observations were assessed in the light of literature data. The problems were identified in relation to various progressive stages of the construction project. At the excavation and site preparation stage, problems identified included lower body stress through awkward postures and continuous walking by carpenters who assisted heavy equipment operators and vibration associated muscular and skeletal problems including back injuries by heavy equipment operators. During the masonry building stage bricklayers experienced significant lower back stress, both during the laying of bricks and grouting. Formwork had ergonomic hazards due to the repetitive lifting and use of heavy saws, resulting in vibration injuries and hand and wrist disorders. Structural steel work involved welding operations often done in squatting or kneeling positions. Crane operators developed ergonomic problems relating to moving and placing dangerously heavy loads with precision. Reinforcement work caused repetitive wrist twisting, as well as lumbar problems. Concrete finishing led to vibration related problems. Spray fireproofing caused fatigue, neck pain, and vibration related disorders. Interior work with sheet metal, pipes and plumbing, electrical work, drywall stud installation and elevator construction led to wrist and posture problems. Roofworkers faced many ergonomic hazards due to materials handling and bent over posture. Building exterior work involved work on scaffoldings with risks for neck and hand/wrist injury. Walls and ceiling work, installation of floors/carpets, and trim and finish work led to several postural and musculoskeletal problems. Solutions to most problems existed through tool and materials engineering. The authors conclude that workers in the construction industry need training in the use of the new tools aimed at reducing ergonomic injury risks.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Cooperative-Agreement; Accident-prevention; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Ergonomics; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Occupational-hazards; Risk-factors; Safety-research; Construction-industry; Construction-workers
Scott Schneider, Occupational Health Foundation, 815 Sixteenth St. NW, Suite 312, Washington, DC 20006
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-306169; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U02-CCU-308771
Issue of Publication
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal
Performing Organization
Center to Protect Workers' Rights, Washington, DC
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division