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Ergonomics of abrasive blasting: a comparison of high pressure water and steel shot.
Rosenberg B; Yuan L; Fulmer S
Appl Ergon 2006 Sep; 37(5):659-667
Abrasive blasting with silica sand has long been associated with silicosis. Alternatives to sand are being used increasingly. While NIOSH has done extensive investigations of the respiratory effects of the substitutes for sand, the ergonomic effects of the substitutes have not been examined. Too often, hazards are shifted, and technologies that might save workers' lungs could do so at the expense of their musculoskeletal systems. Hence, the objective of this study was to examine the ergonomic effects of alternatives to sand. Multiple methods, both qualitative and quantitative, were used to yield numerous kinds of data for the analysis of exposures to abrasive blasters. PATH, a method for quantifying ergonomic exposure in non-routine work, was combined with interviews with workers, biomechanical modeling and noise level readings to assess the ergonomics of two abrasive blasting operations: high-pressure water and steel shot. Advantages and disadvantages of each medium are discussed. High-pressure water was slightly less ergonomically stressful, environmentally cleaner, much quieter and less dusty that steel shot, and it was reported to be slower on those tasks where both media could be used.
Sand-blasters; Sand-blasting; Silica-dusts; Silicates; Ergonomics; Health-hazards; Musculoskeletal-system
Beth Rosenburg, ScD, MPH, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111
Issue of Publication
Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division