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Ergonomics: the impact of an intervention for lifting hazards during installation of overhead electrical conduit.

Fulmer S; Agyem-Bediako S; Buchholz B
J Occup Environ Hyg 2004 Jul; 1(7):D80-D84
The construction industry has been shown to have high injury rates and the inherent ergonomic problems have been documented. Musculoskeletal disorders, particularly back injuries, are a major concern in construction. Low back pain and other injuries attributed to manual lifting activities continue to be one of the leading occupational health and safety issues in all of preventive ergonomic medicine. Workers lifting and carrying equipment or materials can be injured when they twist repeatedly, work in awkward positions, or try to handle heavy loads without help. Electricians play a significant role in construction processes. Electricians install, connect, test, and maintain electrical systems for a variety of purposes. Most electricians specialize in either construction or maintenance. In either case, electricians install conduit pipes, tubing for protecting electrical wires inside designated partitions, walls, or other concealed areas. The Massachusetts State Construction Industry Report for 2001 established that, among all trades, electricians and electrician apprentices had the state's fourth highest number of nonfatal injuries, with 375 days away from work. The objective of this study was to evaluate an intervention to reduce lifting hazards during installation of electrical conduit on a highway construction site. The electricians were responsible for identifying both the ergonomic hazard and the intervening control. The intervention that was implemented was a stand built on site (Figure 1) and used to store stock segments of electrical conduit closer to the point where they must ultimately be attached to an existing highway structure. The intent of the stand was to reduce the lifting distance, and specifically to reduce trunk flexion and forceful exertion, required to lift the segments to their destination. Specifically, the purpose of this ergonomic exposure analysis was to: 1) Quantify the effect of the intervention on ergonomic exposures to the electricians after its implementation; and 2) Provide estimates of the frequencies electricians spend in various trunk, leg, and arm postures, as well as time spent doing manual material handling (MMH) activities during the "Install Conduit" operation.
Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Construction-equipment; Construction-materials; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-safety; Electrical-workers; Ergonomics; Manual-lifting; Injury-prevention; Manual-materials-handling; Materials-handling; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Electrical-insulation; Road-construction; Human-factors-engineering; Engineering-controls; Control-technology
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Schneider S
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Construction
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Source Name
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
The Center to Protect Workers' Rights
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division