Effectiveness of vertical visual reference for reducing postural instability on inclined and compliant surfaces at elevation.
Simeonov-P; Hsiao-HW; Hendricks-S
Appl Ergon 2009 May; 40(3):353-361
Falls from elevation continue to be the most serious hazard for the workers in construction. Simple and cost effective technical approaches to improve workers' balance on sloped roofs and deformable/unstable platforms have potential to reduce the risk of falls. This study evaluated the effectiveness of simple vertical structures as visual references (cue) for balance improvement. Twenty-four construction workers were tested while standing on sloped and deformable surfaces at elevation and performing undemanding visual tasks with vertical structures positioned at different proximal locations. Workers' balance performance was assessed by sway parameters calculated from the center-of-pressure movement collected with a force platform. The study results indicate increased instability on the sloped and deformable surfaces at elevation, and show that a simple vertical structure, e.g., a narrow bar, can serve as a visual cue and assist workers' balance. Workers' balance improved linearly with cue proximity in the tested distance range both on the sloped and the deformable surfaces. At a moment of instability, workers can redirect their attention to a proximal structure, available in the line of sight, to assist balance control. These findings may be useful in modifying elevated work environments and construction procedures to improve workers' postural balance during various construction phases.
Biomechanics; Biomechanical-modeling; Construction-industry; Ergonomics; Mathematical-models; Models; Posture; Skeletal-movement; Statistical-analysis; Surface-properties; Structural-analysis; Risk-factors; Visual-aids; Visual-motor-performance; Work-areas; Work-practices; Workplace-studies;
Author Keywords: Fall prevention; Balance control; Visual reference; Roof construction
Peter Simeonov, Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Rd., Morgantown, WV 26505
Construction; Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities