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Reports of musculoskeletal symptoms among operators of heavy construction equipment: a pilot study.

Kittusamy N
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :30
Construction workers are often afflicted with musculoskeletal symptoms that compromise their health and well-being. However, there have been few formal studies of the nature and potentially preventable causes of these symptoms. The purpose of this study is to assess the adequacy of the cab design and to determine the percentage of musculoskeletal symptoms among workers. A questionnaire was designed to assess demographics, work information, job history, and musculoskeletal symptoms in operators of heavy construction equipment. Information concerning equipment included design of the seat/chair, levers, and pedals, bothersome vibration, quality of egress from the equipment, proper preventative maintenance and repairs, and age of equipment. The body regions that were evaluated included the neck, middle/upper back, low back, shoulder/upper arm, elbow/forearm, wrist/hand, hip, knee, and ankle/foot. Sixteen workers out of 17 (94%) completed the questionnaire. All the participants were male. The operators averaged 39 years of age and 11 years of experience. A majority of the operators (>65%) indicated that the cab (i.e., seat/chair, levers, and pedals) was adequately designed for their job. The operators reported that they were not bothered by vibration and that the quality of egress from the equipment was good. Most of the operators (>80%) indicated that proper maintenance and repairs were performed on their equipment. The classification of equipment as being old or new was almost identical. Five body regions that received the highest total percent of symptoms categorized as somewhat severe or higher, in descending order, included the low back, hip, knee, shoulder/upper arm, elbow/forearm, and wrist/hand. These results indicate that these workers are at risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders; the need to perform a larger survey to further substantiate the outcome; and the need to quantify risk factors (i.e., whole-body vibration and static sitting postures).
Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Worker-health; Occupational-health; Demographic-characteristics; Workers; Questionnaires; Risk-factors
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: October 9, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division