NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Effects of construction stilts on gait characteristics and joint loadings.

Chiou S; Pan C; Zwiener J; Ronaghi M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2005 May; :49
Falls and overexertion are the leading causes of traumatic injuries in the construction industry, largely attributable to the nature of construction work, which continually requires workers to maintain awkward postures and perform tasks at elevations. Stilts are elevated equipment commonly used for drywall finishing, painting, and ceiling work. Previous researchers suggested that stilts may place workers at increased risk for knee injuries and falls. This study was undertaken to quantify stresses and changes in gait biomechanics associated with stilts. Ground reaction forces and body dynamics of 20 subjects (age: 35.8 +/- 7.7 years) were evaluated during walking with stilts at different heights (24 or 40 inches). Subjects walked on different paths (straight or curved) with or without holding a mud pan and a trowel in hands. Results from repeated measure ANOVA revealed significant gait adaptations associated with stilts, including increases in stride length, step width, stride period and reductions in velocity at heel contact (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, lower extremity joint moments (peak ankle dorsiflextion, knee extension, and hip extension) were significantly affected by stilt height (p < 0.001). As the height of the stilt increased, lower extremity joint moments increased, suggesting more muscle activities were needed to ensure steady and safe progression. The maintenance of dynamic balance on stilts is achieved by incorporating compensatory joint torques into the normal gait pattern so as to minimize the destabilizing forces at elevations. The effect of tool carrying did not show any significance, possibly due to the light weights carried in each hand. The findings of this study provide a better understanding of important aspects related to the biomechanics of gait on stilts. To reduce the potential for loss of balance and overexertion, it is suggested that workers avoid or limit prolonged use of stilts, especially when stilts are elevated at high levels.
Traumatic-injuries; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Workers; Posture; Construction-equipment; Painting; Injuries; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Biomechanics; Demographic-characteristics; Age-factors
Publication Date
Document Type
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 21-26, 2005, Anaheim, California
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division