Occupational ergonomics: theory and applications, second edition. Bhattacharya A, McGlothlin JD, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2012 Mar; :653-693
The construction industry sector has long been recognized for its high number and rates of nonfatal and fatal injuries. Data for 2007 from the survey of occupational injuries and illnesses, an occupational injury and illness database maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), indicate that workers in the construction sector experienced the fourth highest number of injuries and illnesses with days away from work (135,350) and the highest rate of injuries and illnesses with days away from work (190.3 per 10,000 full-time workers) [1,2]. Falls accounted for 24% of the nonfatal injuries, while contact with objects and equipment and overexertion were associated with another 52% of the injuries in this sector. Preliminary fatality data for 2008 from the BLS, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), indicate that workers in the construction industry sector experienced the highest number of fatalities (969) and the fourth highest fatality rate (9.6 per 100,000 fulltime equivalent workers) . Nonetheless, the fatality rate in construction was still almost three times the overall fatality rate for all workers (3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers). Falls led to the largest number of fatalities within the construction industry sector (34%). Another 32% of the fatalities were due to contact with objects and equipment and highway incidents . This chapter discusses the aforementioned injuries and their prevention for elevating devices at construction work sites. These devices—including aerial lifts, stilts, scaffolds, and mast work platforms—are widely used, and research further indicates increasing trends for their application in the construction industry. This chapter also identifies hazards and presents previous and current findings, focusing on four research studies conducted by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for elevating devices. Because of the dynamic nature of construction tasks, safety professionals and ergonomists hesitate to evaluate and identify single risk factors associated with the use of elevating devices in the construction industry and prefer to consider the systematic risk involved with the use of this equipment . This chapter promotes the recognition of these hazards and the use of the most advanced and current technologies for injury prevention and control, exposure simulation, and hazard evaluation - for example, computer simulation and force data collection through sensor technologies - to evaluate and control these hazards for this workforce.